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Mortgage rates level off, Freddie Mac says: 30-year averages 4.4%

August 14, 2013|By E. Scott Reckard
  • Demand for mortgages to purchase homes has increased as housing markets improve, although overall demand for home loans has declined as fewer homeowners find it worthwhile to refinance. Above, a real estate agent places an open-house sign in front of a home for sale in San Francisco last month.
Demand for mortgages to purchase homes has increased as housing markets… (Justin Sullivan / Getty…)

Fixed mortgage rates held steady this week, according to home finance giant Freddie Mac, with lenders offering the 30-year home loan at an average of 4.4%, the same as last week.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed loan was 3.44% compared to 3.43% a week ago, which is statistically unchanged. Start rates on adjustable mortgages were slightly higher, according to McLean, Va.-based Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed rate hit an all-time low of 3.31% last November. The current higher rate would mean a person borrowing $200,000 now would pay $125 more per month compared with a person who borrowed when the rate was at its lowest, said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

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While demand for mortgages to purchase homes has increased as housing markets improve, overall demand for home loans has declined as fewer people find it worthwhile to refinance homes.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Assn., the number of applications for home loans has dropped in 12 of the 15 weeks since early May, when Freddie Mac pegged the typical 30-year rate at 3.35%.

Delinquencies and foreclosures also have declined. The number of foreclosure-related filings dropped 32% in July compared with a year earlier, research firm RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday, and the rate is 64% lower than at the peak in March 2010.

Fewer troubled borrowers means less demand for customer-service workers to handle them, and some banks are handing out pink slips. JPMorgan Chase said last week that it had cut 3,000 mortgage jobs, including more than 1,400 in California.

The ax fell hardest in San Diego, where a call center employing 730 workers was shut down. Chase said it was helping the fired workers find new jobs with the bank or with other companies.

Freddie Mac polls lenders early each week about the terms they are offering to buyers who are good credit risks and have down payments of at least 20%, or 20% home equity in the case of refinance mortgages.

The buyers would have paid less than 1% of the loan amount in lender fees and points to obtain the loans. Third-party charges often borne by borrowers, such as appraisal and title-insurance costs, are extra.

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate Chart

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate data by YCharts

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