mortgage

Interest Rate Roundup for March 3, 2011

Interest Rate Roundup
Mortgage rate graph

Mortgages

  • 5.03% (30-year fixed)
  • 0.42 (average points)

Here's a look at the state of mortgage rates from Bankrate.com's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted March 2, 2011.

As the Obama administration fought congressional efforts to end its signature foreclosure prevention program, mortgage rates fell for the third straight week.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped 6 basis points, but remained above the 5 percent threshold, dropping to 5.03 percent. A basis point is one-hundredth of 1 percentage point.

Other rates followed a similar pattern. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.31 percent, also a drop of 6 basis points, according to Bankrate's national survey. The typical 30-year jumbo mortgage, which generally applies to mortgages of $417,000 or more, was 5.6 percent, down 7 basis points from last week.

The largest drop was in the adjustable-mortgage market, where the 5/1 ARM slipped 8 basis points, to 3.85 percent. With a 5/1 ARM, the rate is fixed for five years, after which it is adjusted annually.

This week, the House considered four bills aimed at ending the White House's national foreclosure prevention program early.

By its own admission, the centerpiece Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, has fallen far short of the administration's expectations. Offering incentives to encourage mortgage servicers to modify home loans and thus prevent foreclosures, the effort was launched two years ago with projections of 3 million to 4 million homeowners eventually being assisted.

However, only 1.5 million homeowners have entered trial modifications, and just 600,000 homeowners had entered permanent modification agreements as of the end of January. Of the $75 billion set aside for HAMP, only about $1 billion has been spent.

That has led to Congressional Republicans to call for ending the program before its current expiration date at the end of 2012. That was the subject of this week's hearings. Such a measure, if passed by the House, also would have to pass in Senate.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner argued strenuously against the idea. In testimony Tuesday before the House Financial Services Committee, Geithner said ending HAMP "would cause a huge amount of damage to a very fragile housing market." On an individual level, it could "leave hundreds and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans without the chance to take advantage of a mortgage modification that would allow them to stay in a home they can afford."

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

-- Gregg Fields

 

 

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