Mortgage Trends This Week: August 31


With the exception of short-term adjustable-rate mortgages, national mortgage rates are largely unchanged, as measured by the BankingMyWay Mortgage Rate Tracker.

That’s not surprising, given the hazy, lazy nature of the last few days of August, where real news is scarce. A new Treasury auction last week, of two-, five-, and seven-year securities saw some moderate demand, but not enough to unleash pent-up demand for Treasury paper. In turn, that tamped down any potential action in mortgage rates.

But that’s the nature of late summer activity in the nation’s financial markets. For the week, 30-year mortgages fell ever-so-slightly from 5.41% to 5.4%. It was the same story for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, with rates holding steady at around 4.92%.

Even ARMs were treading water, which hasn’t been the case in a very volatile summer. Five-year ARMs leveled out at 4.96%, while three-year issues fell from 5.13% to 4.97%. One-year ARMs experienced the biggest swing for the week, rising from 4.28% to 5.15%.

A quick review of economic commentary early this morning reveals no earth-shaking reports indicating volatile mortgage rate movement for this week. The Federal Reserve’s personal consumption number comes out later today – it’s a key benchmark for inflation. If the numbers slide upward, it should be an indication that Americans are spending again, almost a sure trigger of rising interest rates down the road this autumn.

But some artificial ingredients could skew the consumer numbers. For instance, the government’s Cash for Clunkers program did lead to an increase in U.S. new car purchases. But that program has been shelved, and we subsequently will not see an impact from the Clunkers program next month.

For home mortgage consumers, the slow news week is a positive sign. By staying still, mortgage rates remain at historically low levels, meaning good deals are out there in the marketplace. If you have a stellar credit rating (of 740-and-above) getting a mortgage rate deal of 5% - a steal when you look at the big picture – is extremely doable.

But it’s becoming increasingly apparent that eager borrowers should act now. We’re already seeing the supply of new homes declining, existing home sales rising, and home prices likely on the upswing once again (albeit at a glacial pace compared to the home value rebound at the end of previous recessions).

Consequently, playing the waiting game is risky. If you really want to buy a home or refinance your existing one, the future is now.

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