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Rates Up, Activity Down

30-year fixed rate 4.86%

Jan. 3, 2011

By SAM GARCIA Mortgage Daily

Mortgage rates generally moved higher in the last week of 2010 and might stay there during the first week of the new year. But the jumbo mortgage pricing deteriorated, and an indicator of new loan activity fell to the lowest level of 2010.

At 4.86 percent, the interest rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was up slightly from the prior week based on Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended Thursday. During the same week in 2009, the 30-year was 5.14 percent.

"For the year as a whole,
30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged just below 4.7 percent, which represented the lowest annual average since 1955 when the average price of a home was $22,000," the chief economist of Freddie, Frank Nothaft, said.

The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased in the Mortech-Mortgage Daily Mortgage Market Index report for the week ended Wednesday, while the conforming 30-year was lower. As a result, jumbo loans -- those higher than $417,000 -- became 0.09 percent more expensive relative to conforming mortgages.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury during trading today was higher than at the time of Freddie's previous weekly report, indicating that the next set of mortgage rate reports won't be much different.

But a majority of panelists surveyed by for the week Dec. 30, 2010, to Jan. 5, 2011, predicted that rates will rise over the next week. A little more than a quarter forecasted no changes ahead, and 18 percent expected a decline.

Freddie reported the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.20 percent, higher than the prior Thursday's report.

The only product to retreat in the report from Freddie was the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM -- which tumbled to 3.26 percent from the previous week's 3.40 percent.

The most recent Mortgage Market Index fell to 140 from the prior week's 205 and from 166 a year earlier. The movement indicates that fewer consumers were shopping for a new loan. It was the lowest that the index has been since launching in December 2009.

Consumers who were refinancing accounted for less than half of the latest activity versus a little more than half the prior week.

The average U.S. loan amount in the Mortech-Mortgage Daily report fell to $197,992 from the previous week's $205,024. The highest state average was Hawaii's $321,972, and South Dakota's $136,331 was lowest.

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