Feb 8, 2020 - Economy

U.S. fixed mortgage rates drop to three-year low

This illustration shows a rising bar graph with a house at the top of each bar

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals

The average rates for 15- and 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to their lowest levels in three years this week, per new data from mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The big picture: The bottom rung of the housing ladder has now ascended beyond the grasp of millions of Americans, regardless of whether they want to rent or buy, Axios' Felix Salmon reported last week. Home prices have surged in recent years.

Catch up quick: 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgage rates are continuing a steady decline that began around the new year, while hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages spiked slightly this week, per Freddie Mac.

  • "Consistently low mortgage rates" helped drive home sales higher in December, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • "Lenders extended a greater volume of home loans in 2019 than any year since 2006," WSJ wrote, citing industry research from Inside Mortgage Finance.

What they're saying: “It’s very much a historical opportunity for folks who have an existing mortgage to refinance and for credit-qualified people to lock in a low rate,” Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae, told the WSJ.

Go deeper: The housing market faces an uncertain 2020

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