The benchmark mortgage fell back near 6% this week, reversing a big jump over the previous two weeks, Freddie Mac reported Thursday.
The national average rate on the 30-year dropped to 6.03% in the week ending Thursday, down from 6.24% a week ago. A year ago, the 30-year, fixed-rate loan averaged 6.14%. The 15-year loan, a popular choice for refinancing, fell to an average 5.47% from 5.72% a week ago. The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.86% at this time last year.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.34% this week, down from 5.43%. A year ago the loan averaged 5.90%. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.94%, down from 5.11% last week and 5.47% a year ago.
All four loans required the payment of 0.5 point to achieve the rate; a point is 1% of the loan amount, charged as prepaid interest.
"Weak economic reports that indicated declines in the job market, slowing in manufacturing and low consumer confidence drove bond yields lower this week and mortgage rates followed," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, in a release. "Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are now at the same levels as they were two weeks ago, erasing last week's upward jump.
"Meanwhile, the housing market continues to take a toll on the rest of the economy. Residential fixed investment shaved 1.25 percentage points off economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2007.
More recently, the median sales price of new homes fell 15.1 percent in January, representing the largest annual drop on record. Residential construction fell 19.7 percent over the twelve-months ending January 2008, the largest decline since March 2007." The bad housing news continued with the release Thursday by the Mortgage Bankers Association of its foreclosure and delinquency data, which found foreclosures at a record high and delinquencies at a 23-year peak.
One small glimmer of hope in the data came Thursday with the National Association of Realtors pending home-sales index, which was flat for December, indicating what some in the industry may be a bottom in the market.