Mortgage Trends This Week: May 24

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While some economists, like Nouriel Roubini, believe we’re inching toward a crisis point — one that could drop the U.S economy back into recession — others, like the folks at Seeking Alpha, maintain that the economy is an upward path, with a stronger stock market a good sign of future growth.

If you had to make the call, you might say that the doom-sayers have the upper hand right now. Certainly, mortgage lenders aren’t buying it, as mortgage interest rates are down again this week, as measured by the BankingMyWay Weekly Mortgage Rate Tracker.

That’s good news for house hunters, who once again are treated to the twin delights of low mortgage rates and cheap home prices. Home prices are down because demand is down — and the federal government’s new home tax credit is now officially over, further crimping demand.

On that front, the Mortgage Bankers Association released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending May 14. In it, Michael Fratantoni, MBA's vice president of research and economics, points to the impact the end of the tax credit is having on the mortgage market:

"Purchase applications plummeted 27 percent last week and have declined almost 20 percent over the past month, despite relatively low interest rates. The data continue to suggest that the tax credit pulled sales into April at the expense of the remainder of the spring buying season. In fact, this drop occurred even as rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages continued to fall, and at 4.83 percent are at their lowest level since November 2009. However, refinance borrowers did react to these lower rates, with refi applications up almost 15 percent, hitting their highest level in nine weeks."

Past that, the rate picture isn’t as clear, with myriad factors driving mortgage rates back downward these days.

One of those reasons, and it’s a big one, is the run to U.S. Treasuries by anxious investors. In precarious economic times, investors flock to Treasuries for two reasons: safety and the guarantee of at least some return on your investment. When demand for Treasuries is high — as it is right now — bond yields fall, thus triggering a rise in the price of mortgage-backed securities. Consequently, with higher mortgage security prices comes lower mortgage rates, as lenders can afford to bring rates down to attract more borrowers.

Maybe that’s why the national 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate fall below the magic 5% level this week, from 5.066% to 4.943%, according to BankingMyWay.com. We’re not here to advise you when or when not to lock down a mortgage rate, but if you’re in the market for a new home, a perfect storm of low rates, low prices and eager sellers certainly puts you in the driver’s seat.

For the week, the BankingMyWay Weekly Mortgage Rate Tracker looks like this:

Description          This Week     Last Week

One-Year ARM          3.81%         3.748%

Three-Year ARM       4.338%        4.218%

Five-Year ARM          3.921%        4.051%

15-Year Mortgage    4.455%        4.562%

30-Year Mortgage    5.078%        5.262%

If you, indeed, find yourself find yourself in that driver’s seat, check out BankingMyWay’s Mortgage Rate Search. Week-to-week, it’s your best bet for finding the best mortgage rate deal possible.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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