Interest Rate Roundup for April 21, 2011

Interest Rate Roundup
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  • 4.96% (30-year fixed)
  • 0.44 (average points)

Here's a look at the state of mortgage rates from's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted April 20, 2011.

Amid signs that February's misery for housing eased somewhat in March, mortgage rates fell across the board in the latest national Bankrate survey.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped by 11 basis points, settling at 4.96 percent. The 30-year mortgage had been above 5 percent the previous three weeks.

The widely followed 15-year fixed-rate mortgage moved in a similar fashion, averaging 4.16 percent, a decline of 12 basis points. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point.

With 30-year jumbo mortgages, or generally those for more than $417,000, rates averaged 5.44 percent, down by 11 basis points.

In the adjustable segment of the mortgage market, the 5/1 ARM was 3.7 percent, lower by 13 basis points from a week earlier. With a 5/1 ARM, the mortgage rate is fixed for five years and adjusted annually thereafter.

The drop in mortgage rates followed this week's Commerce Department report that, seasonally adjusted, home construction rose 7.2 percent in March from February. Building permits, which are considered an important indicator of future activity, also were up 11.2 percent on the month.

However, March's gains came after an abysmal February. For instance, February's level of building permits was the lowest in five decades, The Associated Press reported. In another comparison, March permits were 13 percent below the same month last year, the Commerce Department said.

In an indication that housing remains a depressed industry, the National Association of Home Builders-Wells Fargo Housing Market Index slipped to 16 in April from 17 in March. The survey polls NAHB members on their confidence for the market in newly built single-family homes. April's level is well below a reading of 50, the point where more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor, according to the NAHB.

"The spring homebuying season is off to a slow start, mainly because of the persistent concerns on the value of the homes," said David Crowe, economist for NAHB, in a prepared statement. He also noted that "builders are competing against a large number of foreclosed and distressed properties on the market, which are holding down prices and appraisals and making it tough for potential clients to sell their existing homes."

Find out what your monthly mortgage payment could be using Bankrate's mortgage calculator.

-- Gregg Fields




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