The average 30-year-fixed rate mortgage remained flat for the third consecutive week at 3.55% for the week ending Feb. 3, reflecting the impacts of the Omicron variant in the economy, according to the latest Freddie Mac PMMS Mortgage Survey.
A year ago, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.73%. The PMMS report is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20% down and have excellent credit.
“This stagnation reflects the economic impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which we believe will subside in the coming months,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement.
Mortgage rates usually moves in concert with the 10-year Treasury yield, which reached 1.78% yesterday, compared to 1.85% on the previous Wednesday. The 15-year-fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.77% last week, down from 2.80% the week prior. A year ago at this time, it averaged 2.21%.
Even though rates remained unchanged this week, most economists believe they will climb in the months ahead – but will still be close to record-low levels. The MBA forecasts that 30-year mortgage rates will reach 4% by the end of 2022.
“As economic recovery continues going into the spring and summer, mortgage rates are expected to resume their upward trajectory. In the meantime, recent data suggests that homebuyer demand continues to be elevated as supply remains low, driving higher home prices,” Khater said.
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The expectation of higher mortgage rates is based on the fact that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates. The central bank said it will happen “soon,” though an exact timetable has not yet been disclosed. “With inflation well above 2% and a strong labor market, the Committee expects it will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate,” the Federal Open Markets Committee said in a statement.
So far, borrowers are trying to secure a refinance before rates go even higher, increasing mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) showed on Tuesday that mortgage applications grew 12% for the week ending Jan. 28. The increase was buoyed by the trade group’s seasonally adjusted refinance index, which rose 18.4%. On the purchase front, the index was up 4% from the previous week.