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Mortgage rates settled again this week, declining by the largest amount since last November, and are trending back toward the middle of their recent range.

Freddie Mac reported today that the average offered interest rate for a conforming 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased by another nine basis points (0.09%), back pedaling to 3.04%. Conforming 15-year FRMs followed the trend, with the average offered interest rate for the popular refinancing vehicle dropping by seven basis points (0.07%) to 2.35 percent. The initial fixed interest rate for a conforming hybrid 5/1 ARM managed a decline of 12 one-hundredths of a percentage point, with its fall stopping at an average rate of 2.80% for the week.

After being rather unloved just a few short weeks ago, investors seem to have regained some appetite for bonds of late. The higher yields are of course somewhat more attractive than they had been, and ongoing difficulties in managing the viral outbreak across the globe are providing them at least some reasons for pressing more funds into low-risk, safe haven investments. Such demand helps depress yields, and fixed mortgage rates have been more closely tracking these movements over the last few months.

With the economy here still on the upswing, and with concerns about price pressures and more bouncing around the market, there's still a greater likelihood of higher rather than lower rates overall. Despite that, in the very near term, the trend has been to some softening for rates, but we think they'll mostly stabilize around these levels over the next few days.

In each week's MarketTrends newsletter, we track and discuss economic conditions that affect mortgage rates and their impact on housing markets and consumers. Read the most recent edition on HSH.com or subscribe for email delivery.

Week 30-year-Fixed 15-year-Fixed 5-year-ARM
04/15 3.040% 2.350% 2.800%
04/08 3.130% 2.420% 2.920%
04/01 3.180% 2.450% 2.840%
03/25 3.170% 2.450% 2.840%
03/18 3.090% 2.400% 2.790%
03/11 3.050% 2.380% 2.770%
03/04 3.020% 2.340% 2.730%
02/25 2.970% 2.340% 2.990%
02/18 2.810% 2.210% 2.770%
02/11 2.730% 2.190% 2.790%
02/04 2.730% 2.210% 2.780%
01/28 2.730% 2.200% 2.800%

Mortgage Choices at a Glance

Loan type/terms Fixed 30 years Fixed 15 years/
20 Years
Hybrid ARM Traditional ARM Balloon Mortgage
Rate changes
  • Never; Fully fixed for entire term
  • Never; Fully fixed for entire term
  • Usually after fixed period of 3, 5, 7 or 10 years
  • After that, annual change typical
  • Fully variable
  • Typically changing at one-year intervals
  • Some have shorter change intervals
  • Never; Fully fixed for entire term
  • Low, stable payment
  • Usually easiest qualification
  • Stable payments
  • Builds equity faster
  • Lower total interest costs than 30-year term
  • Lower rates than fully fixed-rate mortgage
  • Can sometimes borrow larger loan amount for same income
  • Can have lowest interest rates
  • Qualification may not depend upon today's interest rate
  • Often has lower interest rate/monthly payment over balloon period than fixed rate
  • Similar to hybrid ARM
  • Can have highest total interest cost over time
  • User may "buy" more rate stability than actually needed, increasing cost
  • Requires higher income to qualify
  • Less affordable monthly payment
  • Funds commited to payment cannot be used elsewhere
  • Stable payment for a number of years, then unpredictable
  • Rates can jump by as much as 6 percentage points at first adjustment
  • Payments fluctuate at each rate change
  • Unpredictable, rates can change as much as 2 percentage points at each adjustment
  • Loan fully due and payable when balloon period ends
  • Must be paid off or refinanced in unknown market conditions
Alternative strategy
  • Consider Hybrid ARM with appropriate fixed period
  • Consider 30-year term and prepaying loan to preserve cash-flow flexibility
  • Consider Fixed rate mortgage or longest possible fixed period, if loan hold period not known
  • Consider Hybrid ARM to ameliorate rate and payment risks for a given period
  • Consider Hybrid ARM to ensure continued loan availability
These may be useful for...
  • Purchasing a home
  • First-time homebuyers
  • Refinancing to improve cash flow/lower payment
  • Refinancing to lower total interest cost
  • Retiring mortgage more quickly
  • Building or rebuilding equity more quickly
  • Purchasing or refinancing when time horizon is seven years or shorter, and where borrower can handle increase in monthly payments
  • Purchasing or refinancing when interest rates are near top of cycle, and are likely to fall, or sale or refinance is anticipated within three years
  • Purchasing or refinancing when time horizon is three years or longer and home will be sold prior to end of balloon period
Consider if
  • Buying or refinancing a home and planning on owning for longer than 10 years
  • Buying second home
  • Refinancing to build equity
  • Paying off mortgage before life event (retirement, etc)
  • Buying a home and expect to move before fixed period ends, or know income will rise to offset payment risk, even in worst-case scenario
  • Buying or refinancing when income can handle frequent payment changes and worst-case scenario for rates over a four-year period
  • Buying a home and expect to move before balloon period ends, or have resources to pay off mortgage if refinance not available
When shopping, ask about
  • "Full cost" vs. "No cost" refinances, prepaying loan to shorten term if desired
  • If 20-year term makes payment too high, whether 25-year term is available
  • Interest rate caps, for first and subsequent adjustments, worst-case scenario
  • A history of the Index the loan is keyed off, margin and caps
  • Whether or not there is any built-in refinancing option when the balloon period ends
Useful tools & resources

Latest Mortgage Rate Analysis

HSH's longer-range outlook for mortgage rates, where we review our last forecast,discuss current market influences and provide our expectations for mortgage rates over the next nine weeks.

Mortgage Calculators

Mortgage rates and more

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