Mortgage Rates Hold Steady at 5.5%

by July 22, 2009 • 0 comments

Mortgage rates have managed to hold steady despite renewed optimism in the stock market spurred by better than expected corporate earnings reports and evidence the recession is nearing an end. The benchmark thirty-year, fixed-rate is right at 5.50% with no points and we are seeing more parity with other mortgage programs lately as both FHA and VA thirty-year rates are also at 5.50%. The rate on the fifteen-year, fixed-rate stands at 5.00%.

Mortgage rates have benefited from reassuring remarks from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke who on Tuesday told lawmakers at his semi-annual address before congress that he plans to keep monetary policy “extremely accommodative” for some time meaning no rate increases are likely for the foreseeable future. I do not expect to see rates rise over the next week unless the stock market gets on an exceptional run of gain. Many analysts still feel the market exuberance seen of late is still premature as investors continue to cheer less than expected losses instead of actual increases in net profits.

We had some great news on the housing front last Friday as the government reported that initial construction of homes as well as new applications for building permits surged more than economists had expected. Housing starts rose to as seasonally adjusted annual rate of 562,000 in June, up 3.6% from May. The consensus estimate was for an annual rate of 524,000. Single-family housing starts were up a whopping 14.4%. Building permits rose 8.7% in June to an annually adjusted 563,000 while economists had expected only 530,000. This was the highest number of new permits since December and the second straight month of increases since the all-time low set in April. All this is just more evidence that the battered housing market has bottomed and finally on the upswing despite a continuing rise in unemployment.

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