Mortgage Rates at Record Low

Mortgage rates at Record Low!

With the economic recovery wobbling, mortgage rates are dropping again — with implications for family budgets across America.

Rates are falling for all types of mortgages, and the average 15-year fixed loan has hit an all-time low of 2.56%, according to Freddie Mac.

Meanwhile, 30-year fixed-rate loans, at 3.35%, are within 0.04 percentage points of their all-time low last fall.

About a quarter of refinancing applications in March were for 15-year fixed-rate loans, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“Even if rates went up 2 full points, buying would remain cheaper than renting nearly everywhere in the country,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for real estate web site “And, if refinancing activity shrinks, many banks will shift to making more loans for home purchases.”
The ultralow rates on 15-year loans can make it worthwhile for many people to go short when they refinance homes, said analyst Polyana da Costa.

On a $200,000 loan charging 2.56% interest, the monthly payment would be $1,339.23, da Costa said. That’s about the same as on a 30-year loan charging 7%, though well above the $881.43 a month required to pay off a 30-year loan at 3.35%, she said.

“If you look at the lifetime of the loan, you save about $75,000,” da Costa said.

A shorter-term mortgage “also provides more protection against a downturn in home prices, since a 15-year loan builds equity more quickly,” said Keith Gumbinger, vice president of mortgage information service HSH Associates.

The balance on the 15-year loan would fall to just over $170,000 by the end of 2015, he said. That would keep a home worth more than its mortgage balance even if prices dropped by a quarter, as long as the buyer put 10% down, he said.

Rates have been falling ever since the financial crisis in 2008, encouraged by the Federal Reserve’s policy of stimulating housing sales by actively buying mortgage bonds, which drives down the cost of credit.

“It’s hard to believe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if rates go a little lower,” da Costa said.