Mortgage rates decline, but just barely

Mortgage rates fell slightly this week as international concerns were top of mind for the global economy.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris, investors flocked to government bonds, pushing prices up and yields down. Yields began reversing course Wednesday, however. Meanwhile, several reports released this week continue to show the housing market’s volatile rebound.

Not-so-great data

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development show that housing starts fell by 11 percent from September to October. The decline was driven by a 25.5 percent drop in the construction of multifamily units.

Builder confidence took a hit this month, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. The index fell from an upwardly revised 65 in October, to 62.

“Even with this month’s drop, builder confidence has remained in the 60s for six straight months — a sign that the single-family housing market is making long-term headway,” Tom Woods, NAHB chairman, says in a statement.

The components that measure sales expectations and current sales conditions both fell, while the component measuring prospective buyer traffic increased slightly.

A look at week’s rates

• The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.09 percent from 4.11 percent, according to Bankrate’s Nov. 18 survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 4.1 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 3.93 percent. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.27 discount and origination points. Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.98 percent. This week’s rate is 0.11 percentage points higher than the 52-week average.

• The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.31 percent from 3.35 percent.

• The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage fell to 3.97 percent from 3.99 percent.

• The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.37 percent from 3.39 percent.

Another spike?

After increasing significantly over the past few weeks, rates have been stable recently, says Dick Lee, president at Independent Mortgage in Newton, Mass.

“I do see a slight increase this upcoming week,” he says. “As a result of the rates spiking up, a lot of buyers have come off the fence and started a lot of activity.”

If you’re undecided about buying, it might be wise to take some action soon, says Michael Becker, branch manager at Sierra Pacific Mortgage in White Marsh, Maryland. “Lock in and take advantage of the still-low rates,” he says.

Mortgage applications rose 6.2 percent last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly survey. The unadjusted purchase index was down 3 percent but was 19 percent above the same week in 2014.

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