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Turmoil in Europe Drives Mortgage Rates to All-Time Lows

Jittery investors retreated to U.S. Treasury debt this week after upsets in French and Greek elections, a movement that yet again drove mortgage rates to all-time lows.

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""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com/ found Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage broke records by falling to 3.83 percent, down from 3.84 percent last week and a far cry from 4.63 percent seen at the same time last year.

The mortgage company also saw rates fall to new lows for the 15-year loan, which averaged 3.05 percent, down from 3.07 percent. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) fell from 2.85 percent to 2.81 percent, while 1-year variable loans ticked up to 2.73 percent from 2.70 percent.

Finance Web site ""Bankrate.com"":http://www.bankrate.com/, which releases a survey at the same as Freddie each week, found similar results, with the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage hitting 3.2 percent and the jumbo 30-year loan falling to 4.54 percent, both new lows.

The Web site found much of the same for ARMs, with the 3-year at a familiar low of 3.06 percent and the 5-year below 3 percent for the first time at 2.99 percent. The 30-year loan fell from 4.05 percent to 4.02 percent.

Real estate Web site ""Zillow"":http://www.zillow.com/ helped presage record lows for mortgage rates Tuesday by fielding 3.69 for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the lowest for the company since it began tracking interest rates in 2008.

A shakeup in French and Greek politics this week encouraged investors to flee to markets across the Atlantic, driving down bond yields and interest rates for mortgage loans.

Earlier this week French Socialist candidate Francois Hollande ousted incumbent President Nicholas Sarkozy, followed by Greek parliament member and party leader Alexis Tsipras, whose victory will likely unseat the current prime minister once he forms a coalition government.

""Frank Nothaft"":http://www.freddiemac.com/bios/exec/nothaft.html, VP and chief economist for Freddie Mac, attributed new record lows to election results in Europe that he said raised ""concerns over the stability of the euro currency zone,"" adding that investors likely also reacted to April's underwhelming jobs report.

""Greg McBride"":http://www.bankrate.com/blogs/federal-reserve/about-greg-mcbride-cfa.aspx, a senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, tells us that ""heightened anxiety about Europe's debt woes is fueling demand for high-quality U.S. government debt.

""The election results have heightened the nervousness about the debt issue,"" he adds. ""As long as nervousness persists, you can expect mortgage rates to remain in this now familiar record low territory.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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