By Kevin Chiu
Mortgage rates budged higher this week as on-going worries over the European debt crisis sent Treasury bond yields reeling, but had real little impact on interest rates. The fixed 30-year mortgage rose a slim two basis point to 4.00%, but remains near its record all-time low, according to Freddie Mac.
The 15-year fixed rate loan remained at a stable 3.30% for the second week in a row as consumers gravitate to the mortgage in growing numbers to pay-off their home loans more quickly. The 5-year adjustable rate mortgage slid a single basis point for the week to 2.90% with few consumers applying for adjustables with the historically low rates offered by banks and mortgage lenders.
Home re-sales improved during the month of October, according to the National Association of Realtors, but remain sluggish for the year. However, the inventory of homes listed for sale is slipping as more homeowners take their homes off the market for the holiday season and others wait out the market.
“This week the Federal Reserve released its latest Beige Book review of regional economic conditions, noting that the residential real estate market generally remained sluggish through the first half of the fourth quarter,” said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft. “The extraordinarily low mortgage rates of the past month may provide a needed spur to housing activity.”
Other economic data released by the U.S. government shows improving trends may be developing, with the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index experiencing the largest jump since April 2003 in November. The measure is closely monitored by economists and analysts as a predictor of the nation’s economic future, and is often the best gauge of the nation’s economy.
However, unemployment remains at record high levels in most of the country as corporations and other employers shed workers to maintain their profit margins, and grow their businesses despite the weak economy.
However, despite economic woes the housing market is demonstrating a move in the right direction in many areas of the country as foreclosures become more difficult to find for consumers who are able to qualify for a home loan and take advantage of the near record low mortgage interest rates.