Interest Rate Roundup for Dec. 23, 2010

Interest Rate Roundup
Mortgage rate graph


  • 4.96% (30-year fixed)
  • 0.46 (average points)

Here's a look at the state of mortgage rates from's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted Dec. 22, 2010.

After a weeks-long climb that sent mortgages to the 5 percent level for the first time since May, home loans dropped back a bit this week amid signs of renewed problems for the beleaguered housing market.

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage had an interest rate of 4.96 percent in this week's Bankrate survey, a drop of 4 basis points from the previous week. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percent.

Other rates also fell. The average rate for a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.29 percent, a decline of 8 basis points. A popular adjustable-rate mortgage, the 5/1 ARM, dropped 3 basis points, to 3.92 percent.

Only jumbo mortgages, or generally those for more than $417,000, saw any upward movement. Its rise was minimal, with 30-year jumbo mortgage rates climbing 1 basis point to 5.59 percent.

The housing market has continued to struggle despite a number of government efforts to stabilize it following its collapse.

In one gauge of the problem, this week the Treasury department said 774,000 homeowners have dropped out of a foreclosure-relief program championed by the Obama administration. The program, known as the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, allows borrowers to make lower monthly payments on a trial basis. On average, the decrease has been about $500. Homeowners can receive interest rates as low as 2 percent for five years and are also given more time to repay their mortgage.

The program has struggled to convert the trials into permanent loan modifications, according to the Associated Press, with homeowners complaining of endless bureaucracy and banks claiming participants have lagged at submitting required paperwork.

The 774,000 people who have dropped out represent more than 55 percent of the 1.4 million people who applied for the relief program. However, the Treasury also noted that 505,000 homeowners have secured lower payments permanently, or more than one out of three applicants.

Government figures show the program has helped far fewer people than expected. Of the $50 billion originally budgeted for the program, the Treasury has paid out only $729 million to borrowers, lenders and other affected parties. However, some analysts credit the HAMP initiative for spurring major lenders to modify mortgages on their own, without government oversight.

Find out monthly mortgage payments using Bankrate's mortgage calculator.

-- Gregg Fields




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