Home sales continue rise in January while today’s mortgage rates continue fall

Submitted by Sandy Smith on 2011-02-25

For the first time in seven months, the pace of existing-home sales in January outstripped the level of one year ago, according to the latest figures from the National Association of Realtors. Continued low mortgage rates are helping spur sales – and those rates continued to fall this week.

According to the NAR, existing-home sales in January rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.36 million units, 2.7% above December’s downwardly revised level of 5.22 million and 5.3% above the 5.09 million annual rate of January 2009.

Sounding a familiar theme, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “The uptrend in home sales is consistent with improvements in the economy and jobs, which are helping boost consumer confidence. The extremely favorable housing affordability conditions are a big factor, but buyers have been constrained by unnecessarily tight credit. As a result, there are abnormally high levels of all-cash purchases, along with rising investor activity.”

For those buyers who can obtain credit, though, mortgage interest rates are attractively low and getting lower. With the release of this week’s Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have pulled back solidly below the 5% threshold they crossed at the beginning of the month. The average contract rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 5 basis points to 4.95% on this week’s survey, with discount and origination fee points averaging 0.6. The average contract rate for a 15-year ARM fell 7 points, to 3.8%.

Moreover, the houses on the market are also more affordable. The latest figures from the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices showed national home prices falling 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2010, moving to within a percentage point of the low set in the first quarter of 2009.

Today’s mortgage rates move weakly downward

The downward drift in mortgage rates also continues on the overnight surveys for today.

Yesterday’s afternoon mortgage rates rates on the Zillow.com National Mortgage Marketplace, with changes from Wednesday and last week, were: 30-year fixed, 4.75% (-1 point, -7 points); 15-year fixed, 4.06% (-1 point, -7 points); 5-year ARM, 3.24% (+2 points, -17 points). Today’s real-time average rates as of 9:30 a.m. ET, with changes from yesterday morning and afternoon, are: 30-year fixed, 4.74% (-2 points, -1 point); 15-year fixed, 4.01% (-6 points, -5 points); 5-year ARM, 3.25% (-6 points, +1 point).

This morning’s home loan rates on the Bankrate.com overnight survey, with changes from yesterday and last week, are: 30-year fixed, 4.87% (-3 points, -6 points); 15-year fixed, 4.16% (-3 points, -7 points); 5-year ARM, 3.56% (-1 point, -6 points); 30-year fixed refinance loan, 4.88% (-2 points, -6 points).

One basis point equals one hundredth of a percentage point. Rates reported in this article assume good credit (FICO score of 650 or higher) and a 20% down payment.

Original article posted at http://www.huliq.com/8738/home-sales-continue-rise-january-while-todays-mortgage-rates-continue-fall