Mortgage Market Awaits Change

It is commonplace that the party in power will lose seats during mid-term elections. If the pollsters and pundits are correct, Tuesday might bring a fair sea change to Washington

The first two years of the present administration have featured sweeping changes to a number of areas near and dear to the mortgage and housing markets, from the distorting effects of homebuying incentives to financial market and regulatory reform. In the midst of crisis, unique steps were taken by central banks to support the economy and we seem likely to continue on this path. Huge stimulus packages have come and gone. Millions have lost their jobs, and a few more folks will join their ranks on Tuesday.

At this point, mortgage markets are waiting for change.

Interest rates remain low, of course. HSH’s overall mortgage tracker — our weekly Fixed-Rate Mortgage Indicator (FRMI) — found that the average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by six basis points (.06%), ending HSH.com’s national survey at 4.64%. Important for first-time homebuyers and low-equity-stake refinances, FHA-backed loans are available at an average rate of 4.28%, while the overall average rate for hybrid 5/1 ARMs was 3.53% for the period. HSH.com’s public data series include rates for conforming, jumbo, and most recently the GSE’s “high-limit” conforming products and so covers much of the mortgage-borrowing public.