Average mortgage rates hold steady as housing outlook improves

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Mortgage rates remained flat after dropping for six consecutive weeks as negative economic news was balanced with a more positive outlook on housing, according to Freddie Mac.

30-Year FRM 15-Year FRM 5/1-Year ARM
Average Rates 4.45% 3.88% 3.87%
Fees & Points 0.4 0.4 0.3
Margin N/A N/A 2.77

The federal government shutdown is likely to keep rates moving sideways in the next few weeks, a Zillow economist added.

"Weaker manufacturing data and a more dovish tone from the Federal Reserve left mortgage rates unchanged relative to last week," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in a press release. "However, interest rate-sensitive sectors of the economy — such as consumer mortgage demand and homebuilder construction sentiment — are on the mend, which indicates that lower interest rates are beginning to have a positive impact on some segments of the economy."

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.45% for the week ending Jan. 17, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.04%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 3.88%, down from last week when it averaged 3.89%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.87% with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.83%. A year ago at this time, the five-year ARM averaged 3.46%.

"Mortgage rates were flat this week, standing pat near their lowest levels since spring 2018 despite signs of market weakness and ongoing uncertainty at home and abroad," Aaron Terrazas, Zillow's senior economist, said in a press release. "As the U.S. government shutdown entered its fourth week, markets have had to navigate a period of heightened economic uncertainty without the usual insights that government data typically provide. More than ever, financial markets must decipher private-sector and international data to gauge the temperature of the U.S. economy. Rates slipped earlier this week on disappointing Chinese trade figures as well as a significant decline in factory output in the Eurozone."

As investors feared a global slowdown, they put money into the U.S. bond market which kept mortgage rates down, Terrazas said. But any outlook going forward is clouded by the federal government shutdown.

"Inflation pressure in the U.S. remains subdued, even with historically low unemployment, which could put expected Federal Reserve rate hikes on ice in 2019. Monetary policymakers have been very clear that they will be closely watching incoming economic data in making interest rate decisions, but with several of these data releases on hold until the federal government reopens, it has become particularly difficult to set expectations. Until the announcement of a government re-opening, higher volatility but a net sideways trend in rates is likely to continue," he said.

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Mortgage rates forecast Mortgage rates Purchase Government shutdown Freddie Mac Federal Reserve Zillow