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Rates Retreat, Could Go Lower

Average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage 4.71%

Jan. 16, 2011

By SAM GARCIA Mortgage Daily

Mortgage rates were lower last week and might edge down a little more. The latest housing forecast has far fewer consumers closing on a refinance this year, while the share opting for an adjustable-rate will climb.

In Freddie Mac's latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.71 percent from the previous week's 4.77 percent.

A weaker-than-expected employment report dragged down bond yields and mortgage rates, according to Freddie's chief economist, Frank Nothaft.

In its January housing forecast, Freddie predicted that the 30-year will average 5.0 percent in the first quarter, then steadily climb to 5.8 percent by the middle of next year.

The Mortgage Market Index report for the week ended Jan. 12 indicated that jumbo mortgages were priced much more competitively last week compared to loans that don't exceed the $417,000 conforming limit.

An analysis of 10-year Treasury data from the Department of the Treasury indicates that mortgage rates in this week's reports might be slightly lower than last week.

Don't expect any changes in mortgage rates during the next week based on panelists surveyed for the week Jan. 12 to Jan. 19 by; 56 percent predicted rates will not change, none forecasted a decline and 44 percent said rates will rise.

At 4.08 percent, the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was better than in Freddie's previous survey.

The one-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage managed to eek out a small decline, Freddie said, with the average at 3.23 percent this week. Freddie predicts that the one-year will average 3.3 percent this quarter.

The share of consumers who chose an ARM fell to 4.9 percent in the Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Jan. 7 from 5.0 percent the week before.

Freddie projects that around 7 percent of borrowers who close a loan in the first quarter are expected to choose an ARM. But by next year, that share is expected to rise to 12 percent.

If the Mortgage Market Index is any indicator, consumers will be closing more loans soon. The index rose to 223 from 184 seven days earlier, though it was lower than 256 a year earlier.

Consumers seeking to refinance an existing mortgage accounted for 53 percent of new loan activity in the Mortech-Mortgage Daily Mortgage Market Index report for the week ended Wednesday. Just 51 percent of the prior week's activity was tied to refinances.

Refinance share of applications will fall from 55 percent this quarter to 30 percent in the fourth quarter based on Freddie's forecast.

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