Author Archives: The Associated Press

30-Year Mortgage Rate Rises to Just Below 4%

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Mortgage Rates
Lenny Ignelzi/The Associated PressMortage rates have ended a five-week decline according to the latest survey by mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates arrested their five-week decline this week but the benchmark 30-year loan remained below 4 percent. Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.98 percent from 3.92 percent last week. It remained at its lowest level since June 2013. The rate stood at 4.53 percent back in January.

The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, increased to 3.13 percent from 3.08 percent. The sustained decline in long-term rates sparked a boomlet of homeowners looking to refinance mortgages. Homeowners eager for a bargain rate fired off inquiries to lenders. Applications for “re-fi’s” jumped 23 percent in the week ended Oct. 17 — reaching their highest level since November 2013, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. But refinance applications fell 7 percent in the latest week, ended Oct. 24.

In recent weeks concern over global economic weaknesses brought market turmoil and sent investors seeking safety by pouring money into U.S. Treasurys. Higher demand drives up prices for those government bonds and causes their yields to drop. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note touched new lows. Mortgage rates often follow the yield in the 10-year note.

This week, the 10-year note rose to 2.32 percent Wednesday from 2.22 percent the previous week. The note traded at 2.29 percent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year mortgage also remained at 0.5 point. The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.94 percent from 2.91 percent. The fee was steady at 0.5 point.

For a one-year ARM, the average rate edged up to 2.43 percent from to 2.41 percent. The fee held at 0.4 point.

 

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CoreLogic: Gain in Home Prices Less Robust in May

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Home Prices
Lynne Sladky/AP

By JOSH BOAK

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose in May compared with a year earlier, but the gains have slowed.

Data provider CoreLogic (CLGX) said Tuesday that prices increased 8.8 percent in May compared with 12 months earlier. The pace of gains has slowed as more homes have come onto the market, according to CoreLogic.

On a month-to-month basis, prices rose 1.2 percent from April to May. But CoreLogic’s monthly figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as warmer weather, which can affect sales.

Prices increased the most in Western states, including Hawaii, California and Nevada.

Home sales began to stall in the middle of last year after double-digit price increases and higher mortgage rates made real estate less affordable for many people.

But sales rose last month as price gains have moderated and mortgage rates have dipped.

Sales of existing homes climbed 4.9 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors.

However, sales are down 5 percent year-over-year.

The Realtors forecast that sales of existing homes will decline 2.8 percent this year to 4.95 million, compared with 5.1 million in 2013.

Sluggish sales, in turn, will slow annual price gains this year to roughly 5 percent or 6 percent, economists predict.

Prices rose in the 12 months ending in May in every state, CoreLogic said. The states with the biggest price gains were Hawaii, 13.2 percent; California, 13.1 percent; Nevada, 12.6 percent; Michigan, 11.8 percent; New York, 11 percent; Georgia, 10.3 percent; and Oregon, 10.1 percent.

Ninety-four of the 100 largest metro areas reported higher prices in May compared with a year earlier.

The six that did not record an increase were: Worcester, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; New Haven, Connecticut; Little Rock, Arkansas; Rochester, New York; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Average prices have risen nationwide for the past 27 months. Still, homes nationwide are 13.5 percent below their peak values in April 2006.

Ten states have exceeded their previous peaks, including Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New York.

 

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Mortgage Rates Rise for Second Straight Week

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For Sale
Charles Silvey/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose this week for a second straight week but remained near historic lows.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year loan increased to 4.20 percent from 4.14 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage jumped to 3.31 percent from 3.23 percent.

Rising prices and higher interest rates beginning in mid-2013 have made homes less affordable for would-be buyers. At the same time, a limited supply of homes is available to buy. Mortgage rates are about a quarter of a percentage point higher than they were at the same time last year.

Mortgage rates tend to follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.64 percent Wednesday, up from 2.60 percent a week earlier.

 

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Home Price Gains Slow in April Amid Tepid Sales

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Home Prices
Lynne Sladky/AP

By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose in April compared with a year earlier, but the increase was the smallest annual gain in 14 months. Price gains have slowed this year as sales have faltered.

Data-provider CoreLogic (CLGX) said Tuesday that prices rose 10.5 percent in April from 12 months earlier. That is a healthy gain, but it is down from March’s 11.1 percent increase and February’s 12.2 percent rise.

On a month-to-month basis, April prices rose 2.1 percent. But CoreLogic’s monthly figures aren’t adjusted for seasonal patterns, such as warmer spring weather.

Higher mortgage rates, tight credit and a limited supply of available homes have slowed the housing recovery. Sales of existing homes ticked up in April after falling to a 20-month low in March. They were still 6.8 percent lower than a year ago.

Prices rose in the 12 months ending in April in every state, CoreLogic said. The states with the biggest price gains were California, 15.6 percent; Nevada, 14.8 percent; Hawaii, 14.1 percent; Oregon, 11.8 percent; and Michigan, 11.3 percent.

Ninety-five of the 100 largest metro areas reported higher prices in April compared with a year earlier. The five that didn’t record an increase were: Hartford, Connecticut; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Little Rock, Arkansas; Worcester, Massachusetts; and New Haven, Connecticut.

Nationwide, home prices are still 14.3 percent below the peak they reached in April 2006, when the housing bubble began to deflate. But in 23 states, prices are at or within 10 percent of their previous peaks, according to CoreLogic’s figures.

Housing began to recover in 2012, but sales of existing homes stalled after mortgage rates jumped last spring. Most economists forecast that sales will barely rise this year from 2013’s pace of 5.1 million. Sluggish sales, in turn, will slow annual price gains this year to roughly 5 percent or 6 percent, economists predict.

 

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Mortgage Rates Fall for 5th Straight Week

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Mortgage Rates
Chris O’Meara/AP

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for a fifth straight week. The spring home-buying season has started slowly, but it may be aided by the low rates.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for a 30-year loan edged down to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage declined to 3.21 percent from 3.25 percent.

Warmer weather has yet to boost home-buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher interest rates beginning in mid-2013 have made homes less affordable for would-be buyers. At the same time, a limited supply of homes is available to buy. New construction has focused increasingly on rental apartments, instead of single-family homes.

Mortgage rates still are nearly a full percentage point above record lows reached about a year ago.

U.S. home prices rose in March, data released Tuesday showed, but the gains are decelerating as fewer Americans can afford to buy.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.4 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, that rate of growth slowed from both February and January.

And more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in April than in the prior month, but the pace of buying is still weaker than last year, according to data issued Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

The increase in mortgage rates over the past year or so was driven in part by speculation that the Federal Reserve would reduce its bond purchases, which have helped keep long-term interest rates low. Indeed, the Fed has announced four declines in its monthly bond purchases since December because the economy appears to be steadily healing. But the Fed has no plans to raise its benchmark short-term rate from record lows.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has told Congress that the economy is improving but noted that the job market remains “far from satisfactory” and that inflation is still below the Fed’s target rate. She said she expects the Fed’s near-zero target for short-term rates to remain appropriate for a “considerable time” after the bond purchases end.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

  • The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from a week earlier at 0.6 point. The fee for a 15-year loan also held steady, at 0.5 point.
  • The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate loan fell to 2.41 percent from 2.43 percent. The average fee remained at 0.4 point.
  • The average rate on a five-year adjustable mortgage was unchanged at 2.96 percent. The fee slipped to 0.3 point from 0.4 point.

 

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Another Rise in Home Prices Comes at a Slower Rate

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Housing Vital Signs
Tony Dejak/The Associated Press“Every indicator of housing market activity and prices we know is slowing or falling outright.”

By Josh Boak

WASHINGTON — U.S. home prices rose in March, but the gains are decelerating as fewer Americans can afford to buy. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 12.4 percent in March compared with 12 months earlier. While healthy, that rate of growth has slowed from both February and January.

Home prices rose in 19 of the 20 cities in March compared with the previous month, with only New York registering a slight decline, Standard & Poor’s reported Tuesday. Leading the gains was San Francisco with a 2.4 percent monthly increase, while prices in Seattle, another hub for technology firms, rose 1.9 percent. The housing market has struggled in recent months, after notching strong growth in the first half of 2013.

Rising prices and higher interest rates beginning in the middle of last year made homes less affordable for would-be buyers. Meanwhile, a limited supply of homes is available to buy. New construction has focused increasingly on rental apartments, instead of single-family homes. And 9.7 million Americans are

Tampa showed the largest slowdown in annual price gains…. Las Vegas and San Francisco posted the strongest year-over-year growth.

stuck in homes worth less than their mortgage debts, making them reluctant to sell, according to the real estate data firm Zillow.

The price gains over the past 12 months were the “result of a witch’s brew,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. It was made possible by the lows of the housing bust that began in 2007, the historically low mortgage rates and a limited supply of homes on the market. “These influences are beginning to fade, and we’re already seeing a monthly slowdown in home prices in more recent data,” Humphries said.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the monthly gains reported by the Case-Shiller index seem excessive. “Every indicator of housing market activity and prices we know is slowing or falling outright,” Shepherdson said.

The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the gains can reflect the warmer weather after a harsh winter. Tampa showed the largest slowdown in annual price gains. Its growth rate went from 13.4 percent year-over-year in February to 10.7 percent in March. Las Vegas and San Francisco posted the strongest year-over-year growth.

Home sales and construction started recovering about two years ago from the Great Recession. But a sharp jump in mortgage rates last spring caused sales of existing homes to start falling in the summer.
Average rates for fixed, 30-year mortgages last week are 4.2 percent, compared to 3.51 percent a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing homes sold in April at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million, a 6.8 percent decrease over the past 12 months.
The Case-Shiller index covers roughly half of U.S. homes. The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The March figures are the latest available.

 

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Mortgage Rates Fall for Fourth Straight Week

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weekly mortgage rates
David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week for a fourth straight week. The low rates could give a boost to the spring home-buying season, which has started slowly.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for a 30-year loan declined to 4.14 percent from 4.20 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage eased to 3.25 percent from 3.29 percent.

Warmer weather has yet to boost home-buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher rates have made affordability a problem for would-be buyers.

U.S home construction surged in April to its highest pace in five months, the government reported last Friday, but nearly all the increase came from the volatile apartment sector — a sign that Americans are still struggling to buy single-family homes.

 

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