Mortgage rates have reached their lowest point since mid-August, marking the sixth consecutive week of decline from October's multidecade highs.
According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 7.03% for the week ending Thursday, down from 7.22% the previous week. This decrease is attributed to the slump in Treasury yields caused by cooler-than-expected economic data.
The current rate of 7.03% is the lowest since mid-August when it was 6.96%. While the rapid drop in rates initially boosted purchase applications, demand has slowed down in recent weeks.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, expressed that while lower rates are a relief, further reductions are necessary to consistently stimulate demand.
Although rates still remain above the historic lows seen during the pandemic, the recent decline has generated increased interest in mortgage applications. The Mortgage Bankers Association's volume index for mortgage applications rose by 2.8% last week, driven by a 14% surge in refinance applications after seasonal adjustments.
Refinance Applications Show Signs of Increase
According to Joel Kan, the deputy chief economist of a trade group, there has been a recent upturn in refinance applications, indicating that 2023 may have been the low point in this cycle for refinance activity. However, purchase applications still lag behind, remaining 17% lower than they were a year ago. This can be attributed to limited inventory and the ongoing challenge of affordability conditions.
Promising Outlook for Home Builders
For home builders, the combination of lower mortgage rates and a continued scarcity of existing inventory is a positive sign. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders exchange-traded fund, which tracks builders and related industries, recently achieved a new high, marking its first time doing so since late 2021.
Optimism from Toll Brothers CEO
During a Wednesday earnings call, Toll Brothers CEO Douglas C. Yearley, Jr., expressed his optimism regarding the recent decline in mortgage rates. He stated that the company is "encouraged" by this development, believing that rates may further decrease, especially considering the easing of inflation over the past few quarters. Yearley also pointed out that the timing of the rate decline is favorable for the upcoming spring selling season.
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