According to a group of real estate industry experts, mortgage rates could continue to hover near historically low levels through the first half of the new year before edging higher in the final six months, MarketWatch reports.
Even as the new year begins, the most recent Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.91 percent, while the rate for a 15-year FRM averaged 3.23 percent.
"Fixed mortgage rates started the year a little lower this week just as recent data reports indicate the housing market and manufacturing industry are showing signs of improvement," said Freddie mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft.
However, according to Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride, due to the European debt crisis, mortgage rates could fall even lower in the coming months - stating that national rates could remain below 5 percent for much of the year.
The European debt crisis has caused a growing number of investors to flock to the United States for business, says McBride. As a result, much of their money is being sent in the direction of U.S. bonds, which when exposed to high levels of investment, keep mortgage rates low.
Meanwhile, a number of American consumers are starting to grow accustomed to the affordable mortgage rates. According to Freddie Mac, throughout 2011 a 30-year fixed-mortgage rate averaged 4.5 percent as the rate hovered below 4 percent during the final weeks of the year.
However, in contrast to rates trending lower in the latter-half of 2011, rates are expected to start edging higher in last six months of 2012. According to Nothaft, this is due to the expiration of Operation Twist, which is scheduled to end in June. As of yet, there has not been an announcement that the program, which keeps mortgage rates low, will be extended.
Additionally, as the nation's economy gained momentum toward the end of 2011, these positive economic trend are expected to continue in the new year. However, a stabilizing economy could be a key factor that could have mortgage rates rising.
"Things appear to be improving domestically. The economy, employment, the housing market are showing signs of warming," said HSH vice president Keith Gumbinger.
However, the troubles that plague the nation's economy won't all be left in 2011, as Gumbinger does expect some upward pressure put on mortgage rates in the coming year.