The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained steady this week, gaining one basis point to 2.81%, Freddie Mac said in a report on Thursday. The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage was 2.32%, falling from last week’s 2.33%.
After this week’s dip, there have now been 14 consecutive weeks when average mortgage rates have been below 3%. According to Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Sam Khater, low rates have provided tangible support to the economy at a critical time.
“Strong purchase demand is helping to lift the construction, manufacturing and transportation industries that build new homes and it is also leading to more consumer spending for owners, who are selling or improving their
homes,” said Khater. “On the refinance front, many consumers are smartly taking advantage of the ability to lower their monthly payment, which means they can spend, save or pay down debt more so than they have in the past.”
The Federal Reserve began buying bonds in March to buffer the shutdown’s economic blows and make borrowing cheaper, and consistently low and steady mortgage rates have pushed homebuyers to flood the market. On Wednesday, Case-Shiller’s home price index for August jumped 5.7% – the greatest year-over-year gain since 2018.
According to Mike Fratantoni, chief economist of the Mortgage Bankers Association, today’s GDP data shows a picture of the economy re-opening and restocking over the summer.
“MBA expects that the pace of economic growth will slow in the fourth quarter and into next year, but expansion should nonetheless continue, provided the current spike in virus cases does not lead to another complete lockdown,” Fratantoni said.
While one end of the market continues to flourish from demand, 34% of home sellers said they are staying out of the market due to COVID-19’s uncertainty in a recent Zillow survey, and approximately 3 million homeowners are currently in forbearance plans, according to the MBA.
“This is further evidence of the unevenness in the current economic recovery,” said Fratantoni. “The housing market is booming, as shown by the extremely strong pace of home sales last week. However, many homeowners continue to struggle, as the pace of the job market’s improvement has waned.”