Mortgage Rates Back Under 4 Percent for Second Week

Mixed reports about the progress of the economy kept long-term mortgage interest rates from moving much in the latest week, according to mortgage finance company Freddie Mac.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage (FRM) slipped to 3.98 percent, excluding fees, during the week ended April 5, from 3.99 percent. The week before that rates had actually topped the 4 percent market at 4.08 percent, the first time since the week of December 1. Last year at this time, the average rate was 4.87 percent.

Rates on the 15-year FRM also inched down, moving to 3.21 percent from 3.23 percent the previous week, and down significantly from the one year ago when the average was 4.10 percent. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were unchanged at 2.78 percent.

Several economic reports came in during the latest week that planted confusion in bond-holders minds about the financial health of the nation, which led to mortgage interest rates holding steady.

“The final estimate of 2011 fourth quarter growth remained unchanged at 3 percent, representing the strongest pace since the second quarter of 2010,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft in a statement. On the other hand, he pointed out that the “March 13th policy committee minutes from the Federal Reserve noted that the housing market remained depressed and supported the continuation of the maturity extension program through June 2012, but did not announce any new stimulus action beyond that date.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications rose 4.8 percent during the same week, with applications to purchase homes growing 7.2 percent, putting them at a level that is about 10 percent above last year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The rise in purchase applications was likely due to anticipation of new FHA mortgage insurance premium increases, starting in April.

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