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Rates Ease, Apps Edge Up

Rates Ease, Apps Edge Up

Average 30-year fixed rate 6.26%

February 23, 2006


photo of Coco Salazar
Applications ticked up as rates see sawed in a range they are expected to continue at for a good while.

Defying four consecutive weekly increases, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage average slipped to 6.26% from 6.28% last week, according to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey. A year ago, the average was 5.69%.

“Tame core inflation figures and market confidence that the Fed will continue to keep inflation low kept mortgage rates in check this week,” said Freddie Chief Economist Frank Nothaft in a written statement. “Over the long term, we expect mortgage rates will bounce back and forth a bit, remaining near current levels.”

In line with the economist’s prediction, Fannie Mae’s updated economic and mortgage finance forecast Tuesday sees the 30-year averaging 6.21% this quarter, rising 5 BPS next quarter and ending the year at 6.27%.

As for the next 35 to 45 days, half of the 100 panelists surveyed by this week believe mortgage rates will rise, and the other half say they’ll remain relatively unchanged.

The average for the 15-year also edged down 2 basis points to 5.89% this week, Freddie said.

The 10-year Treasury, a benchmark for long-term mortgage rates, yielded 4.55% at the market’s close today, three basis points lower than reported last week.

Albeit only slightly, the sole mortgage rate to increase was the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage, up 1 BPS to 5.96% this week.

Down 4 BPS from a week ago, Freddie said the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM average reportedly came in at 5.32%. But this ARM’s index, the 1-year Treasury-bill, moved down 2 BPS from a week earlier to 4.69% on Wednesday, according to a Federal Reserve Statistical Release.

The ARM share of mortgage activity edged down from the previous week closer to 29% of total application activity, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

The spread between the 30-year fixed and 1-year ARM in early February was 90 BPS — down substantially from the peak spread in this interest rate cycle of around 250 BPS in August 2003 and the smallest spread since April 2001. Despite the tighter spreads, “as the yield curve flattens/inverts, the ARM share of loans is likely to stay elevated — falling only from around 30 percent to approximately 26 percent over the next two years … because of high home prices,” Fannie said in its forecast report.

Overall, originators completed just 1% percent more mortgage applications than they did in the previous week, as purchase money applications increased more than 4% but were offset by a 4% decrease in refinance requests, MBA said.

The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 38% of total applications from 41% the previous week.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for


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