Low mortgage rates, falling prices boost affordability

30-year fixed-rate near 5 percentPrime borrowers able to put 20 percent down on a home purchase were offered 30-year fixed-rate mortgages this week at just above 5 percent, Freddie Mac said in announcing the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.08 percent with an average of 0.7 point, down from 5.14 percent a week ago and 6.35 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac said.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 4.54 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 4.58 percent last week and 5.90 percent a year ago.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 4.59 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from 4.67 percent last week and 5.97 percent a year ago.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.62 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from 4.69 percent last week and 5.15 percent a year ago.

Borrowers making smaller down payments, refinancing with a loan-to-value ratio of more than 80 percent, or who don’t qualify for loans eligible for purchase or guarantee by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae can expect to pay higher rates.

But low mortgage rates are helping keep housing “very affordable,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. Falling home prices are also a factor.

In records dating back to 1971, seven of the top eight most affordable months for housing have been recorded this year, Nothaft said, citing a National Association of Realtors index that’s based on home prices, incomes and mortgage rates.

 By Inman News, Friday, September 4, 2009.