Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages tied their lowest-ever reading in Bankrate's weekly survey. By contrast, some other mortgage rates rose significantly.
The average 30-year fixed-rate fell 5 basis points, to 5.28 percent. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. This week's rate matches the lowest rate ever recorded in the Bankrate weekly survey -- 5.28 percent on June 11, 2003.
The average 15-year fixed -- a popular option for refinancing -- moved up 4 basis points, to 4.89 percent.
The average jumbo 30-year fixed rose 16 basis points, to 7.07 percent.
Adjustable-rate mortgages split dramatically this week. The one-year adjustable-rate mortgage shot up 15 basis points, to 6.13 percent. The popular 5/1 ARM sank 21 basis points, to 5.51 percent.
Mortgage activity jumped a seasonally adjusted 15.8 percent for the week ending Jan. 9, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Refinancing activity leapt 25.6 percent from the previous week, boosting the MBA Refinance Index to its highest level since the week ending June 27, 2003. Applications for new purchases fell 10.3 percent.
As the economy worsens, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are giving struggling homeowners a little extra breathing room. The mortgage giants recently announced a three-week extension of a moratorium on foreclosures that had been due to expire Jan. 9.
Mortgage servicers who work with Fannie and Freddie have been asked to postpone foreclosure proceedings through Jan. 31.
Meanwhile, homeowners hoping for prices to rebound may be in for a long wait, according to mortgage insurer PMI Group.
There is an "elevated or high probability" that half of the nation's 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas will have lower home prices in the third quarter of 2010 than they had in the third quarter of 2008, according to a study released by the group.
Markets with the highest risk of price decline over the next two years include Las Vegas; Los Angeles and surrounding parts of Southern California; and every major metropolitan area of Florida.
High levels of foreclosures and rising unemployment will be the major factors driving price declines, according to the study.
-- Chris Kissell
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