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Refis Strong, Rates Worse

Average 30-year fixed rate 5.68%

January 31, 2008


Refinance applications headed higher as purchase activity fell and mortgage rates worsened.

The average 30-year fixed rate was 5.68%, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey announced today. The 30-year climbed 20 basis points from a week earlier, though is was 66 BPS better than a year earlier.

The 15-year fixed rate averaged 5.17%, 22 BPS higher than the prior week, Freddie reported.

The benchmark for fixed rates, the 10-year Treasury, yielded 3.63% in early afternoon trading, unchanged from last week, according to CNNMoney.

Nearly 60% of those surveyed by Bankrate.com project rates will increase further during the next 45 days, while one-quarter forecast a downturn.

For the second time in two weeks, the Federal Open Market Committee reduced the federal funds rate -- this time by 50 BPS to 3.0%. The committee also lowered the discount rate 50 BPS, leaving it at 3.5%.

"Financial markets remain under considerable stress, and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households," the Fed explained in its announcement. "Moreover, recent information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets."

Freddie's chief economist, Frank Nothaft, noted the move was anticipated by the markets.

The average 5-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage was 5.32%, climbing 0.19% from the prior week, according to Freddie's survey.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.05%, up slightly from 4.99% a week earlier. The 1-year Treasury itself yielded 2.30% yesterday, up from 2.19% seven days prior, U.S. Treasury Department data indicated.

Another ARM index, the 6-month LIBOR, was 3.18%, falling from 3.49% a week earlier, according to Bankrate.com.

ARM applications accounted for 8.6% of activity reported in the Mortgage Bankers Association application survey for the week ended Jan. 25, down from 9.3% a week earlier.

MBA said total loan applications, driven by a 22% surge in refinance activity, were 8% higher than the prior week. Purchase applications fell 18%.

Refinances accounted for 73% of applications, climbing from 66% in MBA's prior weekly survey.

Sam Garcia worked in mortgage lending for twenty years prior to becoming publisher of MortgageDaily.com.

e-mail: [email protected]

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