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International Concerns Pull Down US Mortgage Rates

30-year fixed rates average 4.04 percent

July 9, 2015

By E. SCOTT RECKARD Los Angeles Times - Tribune News Service

Worries over the Greek debt crisis and the swooning Chinese stock market made it a bit cheaper to get a mortgage this week.

Mortgage financing company Freddie Mac said the average rate for a conventional 30-year fixed home loan had fallen to 4.04 percent from 4.08 percent last week.

Freddie's weekly report, released Thursday, said lenders were offering 15-year fixed-rate mortgages at an average of 3.2 percent, down from 3.24 percent last week.

The start rates on adjustable mortgages eased as well.

Concerns over Greece and China sent investors worldwide scrambling for the safety of U.S. government securities and mortgage bonds backstopped by the federal government. That drove down the yields, or effective interest rates, on the securities, enabling mortgages to be written at lower rates.

Freddie Mac's chief economist, Sean Becketti, said conventional 30-year loans are likely to stay in the 4 percent range for awhile as "overseas volatility is likely to persist for some time."

In addition, Becketti said, the minutes of a key Federal Reserve meeting in June suggest the Fed will move cautiously on the rate front, "monitoring events both overseas and in the U.S. to ascertain the appropriate moment to begin raising short-term interest rates."

Freddie Mac asks lenders each Monday through Wednesday about the terms they are offering to solid borrowers seeking mortgages of up to $417,000.

The loans must conform to guidelines set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the nation's other major buyer and guarantor of home loans.

The borrowers would have paid about half of 1 percent of the loan balance in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain the fixed-rate loans in the latest survey.

The costs of such services as appraisals and title insurance, often borne by mortgage borrowers, are not included.

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