For the third week in a row, the average mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan remained unchanged at 2.73%, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Even though rates remained at their record low levels, mortgage applications dipped, with some economists pointing to overheated home prices and lack of supply for applications seesawing.
“The residential real estate market remains solid given healthy purchase demand while implied real-time home price growth is high, due to the inventory shortage that is plaguing the housing market,” Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, said.
According to Joel Kan, Mortgage Bankers Association‘s vice president of economic and industry forecasting, despite some weekly volatility, Treasury rates have been driven higher by expectations of faster economic growth as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.
“New COVID-19 cases are receding, which is encouraging and that has led to a rise in Treasury rates. But, the run-up in Treasury rates has not impacted mortgage rates yet, which have held firm,” Khater said.
A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.47%, and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has also maintained a substantial low compared to last year, dropping to 2.19% last week.
With rates settling below 3% for six months now, homeowners are taking advantage of lowering mortgage rates – the MBA estimates refinances are still making up over 70% of mortgage activity. However, as economists warn that rates will make their way up, loan teams will need to buckle down for a drop in refi activity.
“It’s a tale of two economies. The services economy remains in the doldrums, but the production side of the economy remains strong,” Khater said.
Unemployment numbers for January painted a similar picture, as another month of rising COVID-19 cases left the U.S. unemployment situation virtually unchanged for the third month in a row.