Interest Rate Roundup for March 24, 2011

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

Here's a look at the state of mortgage rates from's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted March 23, 2011.

Mortgage rates saw a general uptick in Bankrate's latest weekly survey, yet the government also announced that new single-family home sales plunged to their slowest pace on record last month.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed 5 basis points, to 4.96 percent. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage followed a similar pattern, settling at 4.16 percent, gaining 4 basis points. But the average rate on 30-year jumbo mortgages, or generally for those for more than $417,000, slipped 1 basis point, to 5.45 percent.

In the adjustable mortgage segment, the 5/1 ARM averaged 3.78 percent, an increase of 4 basis points from last week.

On Wednesday, the government reported that just 19,000 new single-family homes were sold in the entire country in February. That produced an annualized sales pace of just 250,000, the Commerce Department reported. That is the lowest rate since the government began keeping records in 1963.

Although poor home sales are sometimes attributed to weather, the latest report suggested the climate wasn't to blame. The February figure was down 16 percent from January, for instance, and off 28 percent from February of 2010.

The median sales price for a new home was off by nearly 14 percent, to $202,100, a level not seen since 2003.

"The market for new homes has been stuck at the bottom for nearly two years and this report is not good news," Chris G. Christopher Jr., an economist with IHS Global Insight, wrote in a research report quoted in the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. "The new and existing housing markets are in a very precarious situation. Prices and sales are falling; inventory is increasing."

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

-- Gregg Fields




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