If you had asked people six years ago, in the midst of the housing bubble, when they thought U.S. mortgage rates would next fall below 4 percent, they would probably have replied “never.” Rates that low were simply unheard of, and yet in the latest week long-term rates have fallen again, sinking pretty darn close to three-and-a-half percent.
The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to a new all-time record low of 3.56 percent, down from 3.62 percent last week, according to mortgage finance company Freddie Mac. And that is the “lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s,” according to a USAToday article. Also mentioned in that piece was the fact that the average rate on the 30-year loan had “‘fallen or matched record low levels in 11 of the past 12 weeks.”
Fifteen-year fixed rate mortgages also dropped to a new record low, with the average rate falling to 2.86 percent, down from last week’s 2.89 percent, the previous record.
Insanely low interest rates have helped keep mortgages affordable during the past several years, with refinancing being especially popular. Yet the reasons for the lower rates are less than positive for the housing market – a sluggish economy with high unemployment is pulling rates down.
“Following a lackluster employment report for June, long-term U.S. Treasury bond yields eased somewhat this week allowing fixed mortgage rates to reach yet another record low,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft in a press release . “Only 80,000 net new jobs were added to the economy last month, not enough to lower the unemployment rate from 8.2 percent.”
So even though mortgage rates and fantastically low for those in a position to buy or refinance now, true housing recovery will be slow until the economy produces more jobs.