Good Opportunities in Bad Economic Times

While there is lots of doom and gloom about the economy, there are some bright spots that bring good opportunities beyond simply the price of gasoline dropping.

Mortgage rates have never been lower – it is a great time to buy a house, refinance if the cost savings would make it worth the effort, or consider turning a 30 year mortgage into a 15 year mortgage to save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  CNN reports, “The 30 year fixed rate fell to 5.01%, its lowest level since Freddie Mac started conducting its survey in 1971.”

Mortgage rates dip to new all-time low

NEW YORK  (CNNMoney.com) — Mortgage rates fell to another all-time low, declining for the tenth consecutive week.

Government sponsored mortgage lender Freddie Mac said Thursday that fixed rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.01% for the week ending Jan. 8th. That’s down from 5.10% last week and well below 5.87%, which is where the rate stood at this time last year.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage has not been lower since Freddie Mac started conducting the survey in 1971.

Mortgage rates continue to respond to the Federal Reserve’s decision to purchase mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae (FNM, Fortune 500), Freddie Mac (FRE, Fortune 500) and Ginnie Mae, according to Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.

“On November 25, 2008, the Federal Reserve announced that it planned to purchase up to $500 billion of these securities by the end of June this year. For the sake of comparison, there were roughly $4.7 trillion of such securities backed by home mortgages available as of September 30, 2008,” Nothaft said in a release Thursday.

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage this week averaged 4.62%, which is down from 4.83% last week. A year ago at this time, that rate averaged 5.43%.

The 15-year rate has not been this low since June 13, 2003, when it averaged 4.6%.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 5.49% this week, down from last week when they averaged 5.57%. At this time a year ago, the 5-year ARM averaged 5.63%.

And the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.95% this week, up from 4.85% last week. Last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 5.37%.

“Since the end of October 2008, these rates have declined by almost 1 1/2 percentage points,” said Nothaft. “[That’s a] payment savings of about $184 a month for a $200,000 loan – an additional $11 from last week.”

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