Mortgage rates fell below 3 percent for the first time in 50 years. The drop has led to increased homebuyer demand and, these low rates have been capitalized into asset prices in support of the financial markets. However, the countervailing force for the economy has been the rise in new virus cases which has caused the economic recovery to stagnate, and this economic pause puts many temporary layoffs at risk of ossifying into permanent job losses.
Mortgage rates continue to slowly drift downward with a distinct possibility that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage could dip below 3 percent later this year. On the economic front, incoming data suggest the rebound in economic activity has paused in the last couple of weeks with modest declines in consumer spending and a pullback in purchase activity.
While the rebound in the economy is uneven, one segment that is exhibiting strength is the housing market. Purchase demand activity is up over twenty percent from a year ago, the highest since January 2009. Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to declining inflationary pressures, putting many home buyers in the buying mood. However, it will be difficult to sustain the momentum in demand as unsold inventory was at near record lows coming into the pandemic and it has only dropped since then.
As the economy is slowly rebounding, all signs continue to point to a solid recovery in home sales activity heading into the summer as prospective buyers jump back into the market. Low mortgage rates are a key factor in this recovery. While homebuyer demand is up and has been broad-based across most geographies, supply has been slower to improve. In fact, the gap between supply and demand has widened even further than the large gap that existed prior to the pandemic.
Mortgage rates stayed at or near record lows for the fifth straight week and homeowners are taking advantage with refinance activity remaining high. Although purchase demand declined thirty-five percent year-over-year in mid-April, demand has improved modestly over the last three weeks.
As refinance applications continue to surge and lenders work to manage capacity, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up from last week’s all-time low. Mortgage rates remain at extraordinary levels and many homeowners are smartly weighing their options to refinance, potentially saving themselves money.
The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record 3.29 percent this week, the lowest level in its nearly 50-year history. Meanwhile, mortgage applications increased 10 percent last week from one year ago and show no signs of slowing down. Given these strong indicators in rates and sales, as well as recent increases in new construction, it’s clear the housing market continues to be a positive force for the broader economy
Given the recent volatility of the ten-year Treasury yield, it's not surprising that mortgage rates again have dropped. These low rates combined with high consumer confidence continue to drive home sales upward, a trend that is likely to endure as we enter spring.
The sound and fury of the financial markets continue to warn of an impending recession, however, the silver lining is mortgage demand reached a three-year high this week. The decline in mortgage rates over the last month is causing a spike in refinancing activity – as homeowners currently have $2 trillion in conventional mortgage loans that are in the money – which will help support consumer balance sheets and increase household cash flow. On top of that, purchase demand is up seven percent from a year ago.