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Mortgage rates remain stable and low

Marcie Geffner

Mortgage interest rates remained low again this week, giving homebuyers who can qualify a nice opportunity to lock their rate at an attractive level.

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A disappointing jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics contributed to this week's mortgage rate stability, yet other factors may have been more influential, says Jim Pomposelli, vice president, residential lending for PERL Mortgage in Chicago.

"The market is reacting much more to global economic events than it is to what's happening in the U.S.," Pomposelli says. "There was a much bigger reaction to the slowdown in growth in China (reported) last week than there was to the employment numbers Friday."

Mortgage rates this week

  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.75% from 3.77%, according to Bankrate's May 11 survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 4.01%. Four weeks ago, the rate was 3.72%.
  • The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.17 discount and origination points.
  • Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.99%. This week's rate is 0.24 percentage points lower than the 52-week average.
  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.99% from 3.01%.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.11% from 3.14%.
  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 3.77% from 3.76%.

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Weekly national mortgage survey

Results of Bankrate.com's May 11, 2016, weekly national survey of large lenders and the effect on monthly payments for a $165,000 loan:

30-year fixed 15-year fixed 5-year ARM
This week's rate: 3.75% 2.99% 3.11%
Change from last week: -0.02 -0.02 -0.03
Monthly payment: $764.14 $1,138.67 $705.47
Change from last week: -$1.87 -$1.58 -$2.70
Mortgage analysis

Fewer jobs created

The U.S. economy added 160,000 nonfarm jobs in April, the BLS reported. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care and financial activities. Job losses were noted in the mining sector.

The national unemployment rate was just 5%, but 6 million people were still employed only part time because they weren't able to find a full-time job or their employer scheduled them to work fewer hours, the BLS found.

Analysts had expected 200,000 new jobs, a level that would have signaled a stronger U.S. economy. Mortgage rates tend to drop when economic activity slows.

Tight credit for self-employed

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association says mortgage credit was less available in April, though not all types of mortgages behaved the same way.

In a statement, MBA Vice President of Research and Economics Lynn Fisher says, "2 opposing trends" resulted in the net decrease in mortgage credit availability.

"Investors continued to roll out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's low down payment loan programs, which had a loosening effect on credit availability. However, this was more than offset by tightening among high-balance and jumbo loan programs," Fisher says.

Pomposelli says borrowers can get access to mortgages, though there are "a lot of challenges" for people who are self-employed or whose income is variable due to commissions or tips. The process is easier for "straightforward salaried borrowers."

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