Rates for home loans took a breather after churning to the highest in nearly eight years, mortgage liquidity provider Freddie Mac said Thursday.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.94% in the Nov.15 week, unchanged during the week. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.36%, up three basis points. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.14%, also unchanged.
Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.
Fixed-rate mortgages move in line with the U.S. 10-year Treasury note, although with a slight delay.
Investors have snatched up bonds as concerns about the Chinese economy and geopolitics have prompted a stock sell-off. Bond yields fall as prices rise, and vice versa.
Meanwhile, a sense of stagnation keeps creeping into the many corners of the housing market. Fewer people expect they’ll be able to become homeowners in the coming months, according to a National Association of Home Builders survey. Americans are staying in their homes for the longest stretches ever, an analysis out last month found.
And in a report out Wednesday, the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University examined the financial state of older Americans. The share of households aged 50-64 with less than $20,000 in wealth stood at 22% in 2017, a big jump from 15% in 2001.
“Another potentially troubling trend is that more older homeowners carry mortgage debt,” the Harvard researchers noted. In 2016, 41% of owners 65 and older owed money for their homes, more than double the 20% share from 1989. It’s true that over the past decade, with interest rates at historic lows, it may have been a smart choice to finance housing costs, freeing up funds to invest or use for other purposes.
But that may not describe the situation for all owners. Some may have used their home equity to help children with education debt, or for their own living expenses. “For financially constrained owners, carrying debt into their later years may mean having fewer resources for necessities other than housing,” the Harvard researchers wrote.
What’s more, it’s not clear what can be done for those people. As rates rise, just 1.86 million people could refinance into a lower monthly payment, according to data from Black Knight.
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