WASHINGTON – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, in a quiet pause after weeks of market anxiety over rising interest rates.
Home-borrowing rates still remain at their highest levels in more than seven years, dampening the outlook for prospective home buyers. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages eased to an average 4.83 percent this week from 4.86 percent last week. A year ago, it stood at 3.94 percent.
The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans slipped to 4.23 percent this week from 4.29 percent last week.
Anxiety over rising interest rates, which result from strength in the economy, has buffeted financial markets in recent weeks and spilled over into the housing market.
U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday and Wednesday after falling sharply from early October through the last few days of the month – a skid that wiped out their gains from earlier in the year.
The combination of higher mortgage rates and increasing home prices has made home ownership less affordable.
Despite the higher borrowing costs, “the monthly mortgage payment remains affordable,” Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said.
For many buyers, he said, the persistent lack of available properties for first-time home buyers is a bigger hurdle than higher mortgage rates because choices are limited.
And the shortage of available homes has pushed prices higher.
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.
The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged from last week at 0.5 points. The fee on 15-year mortgages rose to 0.5 points from 0.4 points.
The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages dropped to 4.04 percent from 4.14 percent last week. The fee held steady at 0.3 points.