Homebuyer affordability is at a record high, and a big driver of that underlying market denominator is the fact that mortgage interest rates continue to hover close to 60-year lows.[IMAGE]
Data released Thursday by ""Freddie Mac"":http://www.freddiemac.com puts the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 3.88 percent (0.8 point) for the week ending March 8, 2012. That's down from 3.90 percent last week. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate's average was a full percentage point higher, at 4.88 percent.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, a popular choice among borrowers looking to refinance their loans, hit a new all-time record low of 3.13 percent (0.8 point) in Freddie's study this week. It's dropped more than a full percentage point over the last 12 months. The GSE says the 15-year rate was averaging 4.15 percent this time last year.[COLUMN_BREAK]
Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós chief economist, says with these historically low rates and declining house prices, the typical family had more than double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home in January. Nothaft bases that assessment on the National Association of Realtors├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ó ""Housing Affordability Index,"":http://www.realtor.org/wps/wcm/connect/d92e89004a6b3f78b401ff7f116f4bb7/rel1201a.pdf?mod=ajperes&cacheid=d92e89004a6b3f78b401ff7f116f4bb7&usedefaulttext=0&usedefaultdesc=0 which during the first month of this year registered its highest reading since records began in 1970.
Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) showed mixed movement in Freddie├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós survey. The 5-year ARM slipped from 2.83 percent last week to 2.81 percent (0.7 point) this week. The 1-year ARM edged higher, rising from 2.72 percent to 2.73 percent (0.6 point).
A separate study released by ""Bankrate"":http://www.bankrate.com shows slightly different movement but still puts current mortgage rates near their all-time lows. Bankrate├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós results are derived from data collected from the 10 largest lenders in the 10 largest markets, whereas Freddie Mac├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós survey averages rates from about 125 lenders across the country.
Bankrate says the average for the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose slightly this week to 4.11 percent (0.39 point), up from 4.10 percent last week.
The average 15-year fixed mortgage dipped from 3.35 percent to 3.34 percent (0.34 point) in Bankrate├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔÇ×┬ós study, while the jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage remained unchanged at 4.63 percent.
Mortgages with adjustable rates held steady this week, according to Bankrate, with the average 5-year ARM inching lower to 3.03 percent and the 10-year ARM staying put at 3.61 percent.