Interest Rate Roundup: March 26, 2009

Here's a look at the state of interest rates on five common consumer banking products and the latest rates from's weekly national survey of large banks and thrifts conducted March 25, 2009.


Rate: 5.19 percent (30-year fixed) Average Points: 0.42

Mortgage rates slid to a new record low in the weekly Bankrate survey.

The average 30-year fixed-rate fell 10 basis points, to 5.19 percent. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

This week's rate sank below the previous all-time Bankrate low of 5.28 percent on both June 11, 2003, and Jan. 14 of this year.

Rates fell sharply after the Federal Reserve's March 18 announcement that it plans to buy an additional $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities. Previously, the Fed had committed to buying $500 billion in these securities, bringing the purchase total to $1.25 trillion.

This week's average 15-year fixed-rate -- a popular option for refinancing -- fell 6 basis points, to 4.8 percent.

The average jumbo 30-year fixed plunged 22 basis points, to 6.66 percent.

Adjustable-rate mortgages also fell this week. The one-year adjustable-rate mortgage dropped 18 basis points, to 5.3 percent. The popular 5/1 ARM slipped 3 basis points, to 5.21 percent.

Mortgage loan application activity boomed for the third consecutive week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. For the week ending March 20, applications climbed a seasonally adjusted 32.2 percent compared to a week earlier.

Refinancing activity surged by 41.5 percent, while applications for new purchases were up 4.2 percent.

The surge in refinancing activity has caused the MBA to increase its 2009 mortgage origination forecast to more than $2.78 trillion. That would make this year the fourth highest for originations, behind only 2002, 2003 and 2005, according to the MBA.

The MBA also noted that 2009 originations would be made up "almost entirely" of Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-eligible loans, or loans eligible for FHA insurance. By contrast, earlier recent periods of high originations included large amounts of subprime and jumbo loans.

In other mortgage news, several indicators offered fresh hope for the beleaguered housing market. January housing prices rose nationally by 1.7 percent, the first increase in 10 months, according to the Federal Finance Housing Agency.

Meanwhile, February sales of existing homes rose 5.1 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors. It was the biggest monthly jump in six years.

Sales of new homes also were up in February, rising 4.7 percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The increase was a turnaround from January, when sales fell to a record low. February's increase also was the first rise in new home sales since July 2008.

To find and compare mortgage rates in your area, visit Bankrate's interactive search tool.

-- Chris Kissell



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