The trend lives on. The 30-year mortgage rate hit new lows for the sixth straight week, according to data released by Freddie Mac this morning. This week it hit 3.67%, while the 15-year continued its decline, to 2.94%.
Rates were pressured as long-term bond yields declined further following a downwardly revised GDP estimate and a disappointing jobs report for May, according to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.
On one hand, the Federal Reserve's regional look at economic activity on Wednesday pointed to improvement in most areas, and the weekly mortgage application data shows the demand (especially for refinancing) isn't anemic. But the most recent economic data haven't done anything to perk up housing. The Case-Shiller 20-city index fell 2.6% in March, and pending home sales fell 5.5% in April, according to reports last week.
And so the debate continues over the many-times declared bottom, leaving observers wondering if it is merely hypothetical, theoretical, or just too blurry to see in real-time. (Our commenters use more colorful language.) In the meantime, conditions get better and better for those who want to refinance if they are able to avoid gridlock in bank backlog.
Demand via mortgage application activity increased 1.3 percent for the week ending June 1, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, including an adjustment for the Memorial Day holiday. That activity continues to be heavily dominated by refinancing demand; the refinance share of mortgage activity increased another percentage point to 78%.
The Federal Reserve said in its regional report on economic conditions that activity in residential real estate markets had improved in most of its twelve districts since its last report:
"Home sales were above year-ago levels in most areas of the country and several Districts noted sales had improved since the previous report, although some noted that the pace was well below the historical average," according to the Beige Book survey. "In particular, the New York, Cleveland, and Richmond Districts noted a pickup in the pace of distressed sales. Residential brokers and some builders in the Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas Districts said home sales were exceeding expectations."
How would you sum up housing in your area? Is it time to take advantage?