May 14, 2009, 10:40 a.m. EST
Fixed-rate mortgages rise, ARMs fall
But rates move little after release of April employment figures: economist
CHICAGO (MarketWatch) -- Rates on fixed-rate mortgages rose slightly this week, while rates on adjustable-rate mortgages fell, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates, released on Thursday.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.86% for the week ending May 14, up from last week's 4.84% average; it averaged 6.01% a year ago, Freddie Mac reported. Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.52% this week, up from 4.51% last week; the mortgage averaged 5.60% a year ago.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.82%, down from 4.90% last week and 5.57% a year ago. And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.71% this week, down from 4.78% last week and 5.18% a year ago.
To obtain the rates, all mortgages in the survey required a payment of an average 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.
"Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages were little changed this week following the release of April's employment figures," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a news release. "The economy lost 539,000 jobs, less than the monthly job loss of the past five months, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.9%. ARM rates, however, fell slightly over the period."
Low home prices and interest rates are benefiting first-time buyers, he added.
"Housing affordability for the median first-time buyer reached a record high in the first quarter since the NAR index began in 1981. Consequently, first-time homebuyers accounted for half of existing home sales in the first three months of this year, the NAR reported," Nothaft said.
In a separate survey released on Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that mortgage application volume was down a seasonally adjusted 8.6% for the week ending May 8, compared with the week before.