Mortgage rates, applications see rise in late March

According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending March 28, slight increases were recently observed in fixed-rate mortgages, although all products are well below their March 2012 levels.

As the national economy continues to show signs of improvement and recovery, housing markets across the country have benefited from the positive developments. Recent mortgage records have noted weekly figures staying within close range of their monthly averages, and the affordable opportunities afforded to consumers have seen applications jump considerably.

According to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ending March 28, slight increases were recently observed in fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs), although all popular products are well below their March 2012 levels. Average 30-year FRMs were recorded at 3.57 percent, after having been seen at 3.54 percent the week prior. A 15-year FRM averaged 2.76 percent last week, moving up from the previous week's level of 2.72 percent. Compared to the same week last year, both products have improved substantially, as 30-year FRMs registered at 3.99 percent and 15-year plans averaged 3.23 percent.

Average five-year treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were logged at 2.68 percent last week, Freddie Mac noted. The figure is a slight increase from the level of 2.61 percent seen the week before, but significantly lower than year-ago levels of 2.90 percent. Average one-year treasury-indexed ARMs were recently seen at 2.62 percent, having dropped from 2.63 percent recorded the preceding week and from 2.78 percent reported one year ago. 

"Low and relatively steady mortgage rates are invigorating the housing market," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac. "For instance, existing home sales over January and February experienced the strongest two-month pace since November 2009, while new home sales were the strongest since August and September 2008. The number of consumers expecting to purchase a home over the next six months rose to 5.6 percent in March, the second highest share since data was first collected in February 1964, according to The Conference Board."

Mortgage applications on the rise again
As an increasing number of consumers research real estate property records and move toward purchasing a home, the number of mortgage applications recently submitted has increased considerably. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that during the week ending March 22, application volumes increased 7.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the week prior.

The organization reported its seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 7 percent week-over-week, while its Refinance Index moved up 8 percent. The refinance share of mortgage activity remained unchanged between the two weeks, however, as the figure stayed at 75 percent of total applications.

Consumers considering pursing homeownership may benefit from acting soon, as bolstering conditions may see heightened rates in coming weeks.

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