Mortgage rates dipped for the second consecutive week, with the most popular loans falling to their lowest marks since late November.
Key rates saw a sharp dip last week amid signs that the economy and housing market may be too weak to handle a large upswing in home prices.
The 30-year fixed-rate average sank for the fourth consecutive week and is now at 4.39 percent, a decline of 0.02 percentage point week-over-week, according to the latest survey from mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. The popular loan averaged 4.53 percent at the start of 2014 and was at 3.53 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average also declined, falling to 3.44 percent from 3.45 percent. It has fallen in each of the last three weeks and is now at its lowest point since the last week of November. A year ago, the 15-year rate averaged 2.81 percent — a difference of .63 percentage point year-over-year.
Averages for hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were mixed. Previously at 3.1 percent, the five-year ARM increased by 0.05 percentage point to 3.15 percent this week. After holding steady at 2.56 percent for one month, the one-year ARM saw a slight dip this week, falling 0.02 percentage point to 2.54 percent.
“Mortgage rates were flat to down a little this week amid reports that inflation remains subdued,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “The Consumer Price Index was up 0.3 percent in December after being unchanged in November. For the year as a whole, consumer prices rose just 1.5 percent in 2013.”
Mortgage rates had been rising steadily in December after the Federal Reserve announced it would begin to curb its bond-buying stimulus program in January. The bond-purchase program has helped offset dramatic gains in real estate prices and kept affordability elevated while the market has stabilized.
While home sales have slowed since the Fed’s announcement, the rebounding housing market continues to show signs of recovery. As the recovery progresses, key rates are expected to see a significant rise. In the short-term, however, rates are expected to hold steady.
In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by Bankrate.com, the majority of loan experts polled believe that rates will remain relatively unchanged over the next week.
“If the Fed announces a continued tapering at next week’s meeting, that gives a vote of confidence in the economy that will eventually push mortgage rates higher,” opined Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. “But it’s wait-and-see mode in the meantime.”
Distinctive Properties, Inc.