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What do Sinking Mortgage Rates Mean for the Market?

marketMortgage interest rates continued their downward pattern this week, reaching their lowest level since February of last year.

This occurrence could mean a number of things for the housing market, including greater affordability, an uptick in sales, a refinance boom, among other factors.

Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey [1] (PMMS), showed that for the week ending April 7, 2016, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.59 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week. Last week, the 30-year rate averaged 3.71 percent and a year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent.

PMMS GraphSean Becketti, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, said, "Mortgage rates this week registered the delayed impact of last week's sharp drop in Treasury yields as the 30-year mortgage rate fell 12 basis points to 3.59 percent. This rate marks a new low for 2016 and matches last year's low in February 2015. Low mortgage rates and a positive employment outlook should support a strong housing market in the second quarter of 2016."

According to the report, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.88 percent this week with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.98 percent. The 15-year FRM averaged 2.93 percent a year ago at this time.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.82 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.90 percent. A year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.83 percent, Freddie Mac reported.

In response to the significant decline in mortgage rates, The Collingwood Group [2] Chairman, Tim Rood, noted that although rates are close to three-year lows, first-time buyers and millennials still struggle with getting home loans. This phenomenon is causing what Rood calls a "regulatory jihad" that is "preventing access to cheap mortgages."

“Regulatory Jihad on lenders is weighing on banks and others,” Rood stated. "Increased regulation, under the guise of protecting borrowers is actually hurting prospective homebuyers from getting a loan."

The Former Fannie Mae executive added, “Regulatory requirements and housing finance reforms are clearly impacting the industry's willingness to deploy risk capital in the mortgage space.”