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Recent Mortgage Rate Info:

By Holden Lewis •

For the third week in a row, the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage remained under 5.5 percent. Granted, rates went up. But they're still very low from a historical perspective.

The benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose 7 basis points, to 5.41 percent, according to the national survey of large lenders. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point. The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.45 discount and origination points. One year ago, the mortgage index was 6.41 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 5.48 percent.

The benchmark 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage was unchanged at 4.93 percent. The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose 3 basis points, to 5.4 percent.

Bankrate's weekly mortgage survey began in September 1985. In that time, there is only one period in which the 30-year fixed remained under 5.5 percent for longer than this three-week slide. That was May and June 2003, the height of a refinance boom. Americans were in a home-buying frenzy, too. Back then, it seemed that everyone was either refinancing or buying.

That is not the case now.

In the second week of June 2003, the benchmark 30-year fixed fell to 5.28 percent. Two-and-a-half times as many people applied for refinances that week in 2003 as they did last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Actually, the 60 percent decline in applications between then and now is probably bigger than that. Lenders say that people are applying at multiple places nowadays, on the theory that they'll be turned down by one lender but approved by another.

In 2003, about 6.1 million homes were resold. Last month, homes were resold at an annual pace of about 4.5 million. Nationally, about 45 percent of homes resold in January were short sales or foreclosures. The National Association of Realtors calls these "distressed sales," and they vary geographically. According to the Realtors, distressed sales accounted for four in five transactions in Santa Ana, Calif., last month, and one in five in Chicago..


- Posted: Feb. 26, 2009

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