Rates for home loans fell again, taking the benchmark product below a key threshold, as global economic concerns rocked markets.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.99% in the May 30 week, down from 4.06%, Freddie Mac said Thursday. That marked a 16-month low for the popular product, which has eked out a weekly rise only six times so far in 2019.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.46%, down from 3.51%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.60%, down 8 basis points.
Rates have tumbled for the past few weeks, in line with the broader bond market, on concerns about a U.S.-China trade war and overall slowing global growth. When investors grow worried about future growth, fixed-income assets like bonds look more attractive, and when bond prices rise, yields fall. Fixed-rate mortgages follow the 10-year U.S. Treasury note
But Americans aren’t taking advantage of the rate lull the way they may have been expected to. Mortgage applications for both purchases and refinances fell in the most recent week, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.
“It is possible that the trade dispute is causing potential homeowners to hold off on buying, with the fear that further escalation – or the lack of resolution – may have adverse impacts on the economy and housing market,” the group said in a release.
All eyes are on the crucial spring selling season, in hopes that sales activity will shed more light on the health of the market. Many analysts believed that the market wobble in the second half of 2018 was a one-off, and with rates backing off, more Americans would be lured back into the market. That may turn out to be too optimistic.