The average interest rate on home mortgages continued to fall to record lows. The rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.56 percent compared to 3.62 percent the prior week. This represents the lowest level for mortgage interest rate since the introduction of the product over 60 years ago. Mortgage rates have declined or matched historic lows for 11 of the last 12 weeks.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, which increasingly more borrowers prefer to refinance their homes or build home equity faster, fell to 2.86 percent down from 2.89 percent last week.
Low Interest Rates Important for Recovery
Record low mortgage rates have been one of the primary keys to stabilizing a housing market that has been in freefall for the past several years. Decreased inventory levels and rising homes sales (in May) have helped to increase the median price of homes in many regions of the country. Housing starts and building permits are also on the rise.
When consumers pay less for housing costs by refinancing high interest rate mortgages or obtaining home loans at low rates, they have extra cash to spend on other categories.
This additional money fuels the purchase of appliances, furniture, and apparel or home improvements. These outlays help expand the nation’s gross domestic product, which measures economic strength.
Job Market Concerns
To an inability of employers to create new jobs has placed a drag on the housing market and the general economy. The momentum companies seem to gain in hiring during the first quarter of 2012 has been lost. In Q1, firms hired an average of 150,000 new workers each month. In comparison, for the past three months (Q2), companies have created an average of 75,000 new jobs each month—about 225,000 jobs.
During the first half of 2011, the economy hired an average of 161,000 new workers every month. Because of the fall off in job creation, consumer spending has also dried up compared to the level of spending seen earlier in the year.
When reviewing mortgage interest rates, understand that the average does not include other cost of obtaining a loan, which includes loan origination fee, appraisal fees, points and other closing costs. Points refer to a fee most lenders charge to recover some of the expense of processing a loan and equals about one percent of the loan amount.
Even with the improved picture for the housing market, home sales continue to hover at levels indicative of a health economy. Larger down payment requirements and tighter credit standards have limited the number of potential homebuyers able to qualify for mortgages.