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Rates Fall to Record Lows and May Continue Dropping

Applications slow

June 13, 2003


Mortgage rates hit new record lows across the board, with the latest numbers marking the fourth straight week of record-smashing, according to Freddie Mac.

The secondary lender's Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported average 30-year fixed rate mortgages at 5.21 percent, down five basis points (BPS) from last week. Fifteen-year fixed rates fell six BPS to 4.60 percent. Both rates had one-half a discount point, on average, according to the survey, and both represent a new record low. Last year's comparable rates were 6.71 percent for the 30-year and 6.17 percent for the 15-year fixed, the survey said.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages also hit a new low, averaging 3.54 percent, down five BPS from the prior week and off more than one percent from last year's 4.67 for the comparable week, the survey said.

This week's numbers represent the ninth time rates have broken record lows in 2003, according to the survey.

Bankrate.com survey participants see rates headed even lower in the short term. Fifty-six percent of the mortgage industry experts surveyed said they believed interest rates would continue to fall. Those voting for rates to remain stable or go up were evenly divided at 22 percent for each category.

Frank Nothaft, chief economist for Freddie, also thinks rates are going to fall during the next few months. In a commentary, Nothaft noted the possibility of further rate cuts by the Federal Reserve Board due to the "absence of any inflationary pressures" and "the continuous weakness in the economy."

In Freddie's June outlook, Nothaft projects that third-quarter 30-year rates will average 5.3 percent, rising to 5.4 percent for the fourth quarter.

The Market Composite Index of mortgage loan applications fell to 1684.6, from 1856.7 on a seasonally-adjusted basis for the week ended June 6, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey showed all seasonally-adjusted measured indices falling, including the Refinance Index, which fell to 9046.9 from 9977.8 the prior week. Refinancing activity grew slightly to 76.9 percent of total applications up from 76.7 percent in the prior week.

Over at Freddie, Nothaft sees mortgage activity culminating in a banner year, predicting that "close to one half of all single-family mortgage debt outstanding at this year's end will have been originated in 2003."

Near midday, the 10-year Treasury Note yield -- currently treading record waters -- was down a whopping 7 BPS to yield 3.09%. The price was $104.50, up $0.59. Last week, the 10-year was reported at 3.34%.

Anne Lineberry is MortgageDaily.com's editor. She previously worked as an online editor/producer for DallasNews.com and on the Metropolitan desk for the print edition of The Dallas Morning News. Email Anne at [email protected]

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