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Adjustable Rates near Fixed Rates, Illuminate Consumer Concern

Older man looking worried
Despite small increases, mortgage loan interest rates remained calm this week according to rate reports provided by loans.org.

All three rates shifted less than 10 basis points, which is a normal weekly fluctuation.

For the week ending July 25, 2013, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.31 percent, a moderate increase from last week’s reported rates of 4.25 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.36 percent. Last week, the average rate was lower at 3.3 percent.

The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.23 percent, dropping only one basis point from the 3.24 percent reported last week.

Despite an insignificant change this week, the adjustable rate has increased alarmingly fast over the past month.

On June 20, the difference between the 15-year fixed rate and the 5/1 adjustable-rate was significantly larger than it is today. One month ago, the fixed rate was 3.11 percent whereas the adjustable rate was 2.68. That gap was a difference of 43 basis points. In comparison, this week yields a much smaller gap of only 13 basis points.

Joanne Cleaver, director of content and communication for USRealty.com, said the minimal differences between the 15-year fixed rate and the 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage illuminates the risk factor of an adjustable rate loan.

When homeowners look to buy a new home they want to be able to predict what their monthly mortgage payment will be. In the past, there were minimal changes in mortgage loan interest rates. Now that the rates have increased at a staggering rate, consumers are more hesitant to take the risk of financing a home on an adjustable rate.

“They can’t control what is at the end of that short road,” Cleaver said.

She said this fact tarnishes and minimizes the appeal of an adjustable mortgage loan.

Despite concern over the recent rate spike, Cleaver said that consumers are more concerned with equity than anything else. For homeowners looking to sell and buy a new property, having equity in their home is more important than capturing a low interest rate.

“They are looking for ways to stabilize their next purchase,” she said.

In order to assess and predict trends in the housing market, Cleaver said she looks to the employment reports. She said they provide a general framework for housing in a certain area since the housing story plays out “metro by metro.”

“It’s the employment statistics … that long-term trend indicates whether or not people are willing to invest,” she said. “It is a proxy for confidence and for how people are likely to cast their lot.”

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