Average U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, marking a 13th straight week below 4 percent and offering an enticement for potential homebuyers.
Here’s a look at rates for fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages this week and over the past year:
|Current avg.||Last week||52-week high||52-week low|
|30-year fixed||3.79 percent||3.82 percent||4.02 percent||3.59 percent|
|15-year fixed||2.98 percent||3.03 percent||3.21 percent||2.92 percent|
|5-year adjustable||2.89 percent||2.88 percent||3.02 percent||2.82 percent|
|1-year adjustable||2.62 percent||2.54 percent||2.63 percent||2.37 percent|
WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, marking a 13th straight week below 4 percent and offering an enticement for potential homebuyers.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.79 percent from 3.82 percent a week earlier. The rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages eased to 2.98 percent from 3.03 percent.
The rates are well below last year’s levels. A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage rate was 3.82 percent, while the rate for 15-year loans was 3.08 percent.
The low rates and steady job gains have helped the real estate market reach what appears to be a stable plateau in recent months. Data issued Thursday by the National Association of Realtors showed that Americans snapped up more homes in September, suggesting that the housing sector remains insulated from global economic turmoil. Still, first-time buyers remain scarce and relatively few properties are being listed for sale, capping the potential growth of the sector.
Sales of existing homes jumped 4.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for a 30-year mortgage held steady from last week at 0.6 point. The fee for a 15-year loan declined to 0.5 point from 0.6 point.
The average rate on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 2.89 percent from 2.88 percent; the fee was unchanged at 0.4 point. The average rate on one-year ARMs jumped to 2.62 percent from 2.54 percent; the fee was steady at 0.2 point.
Australia’s housing-related stocks have been crumbling on concerns the country’s property boom has peaked, but according to Goldman Sachs, the equity market is painting a far gloomier outcome than is likely to materialize.
“Since February, stocks in our screen of companies with the most leverage to Australian housing have fallen by an average of 17 percent, underperforming the average stock in the ASX 100 by 12 percent,” Goldman Sachs wrote in a note. These stocks include mortgage broker Mortgage Choice, building materials manufacturer CSR and housing developer Lend Lease.
The sell-off has been fueled by a host of factors including cooling house price growth, rising vacancy rates and market concerns that tighter Chinese capital controls following the devaluation of its currency could lead to settlement risks in the apartment market.
Mainland investors are important players in the Australian property market. Chinese investment in residential property totaled 8.7 billion Australian dollars in the year through June 2014, according to Credit Suisse, up by more than 60 percent on-year.
“While we have been highlighting these downside risks increasingly over the past year, we do not believe house prices are going to fall materially from here nor do we believe that activity in the housing market is going to fall away sharply,” Goldman said.
The bank expects additional rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australiain November and March will help to stabilize the market and allow it to cool gradually.
It’s crunch time for thousands of small business owners who must comply with requirements of the health care law for the first time.
Companies with 50 to 99 full-time employees must offer affordable insurance to employees and their dependents starting Jan. 1. They must also file tax forms with the government by Jan. 31 detailing the cost of their coverage and the names and Social Security numbers of employees and their dependents. While companies of all sizes are subject to the law must file the forms, smaller businesses without big staffs to handle the paperwork may have to hire someone to do it — at a cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars.
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“It’s probably going to be a big nightmare for a lot of businesses,” says David Lewis, president of OperationsInc., a human resources provider based in Norwalk, Connecticut,. He expects his company’s business to be up 20 percent this year as businesses seek help to comply with the law.
The enrollment period for buying insurance starts Nov. 1. All the new requirements are likely to take many small business owners by surprise, says Bob Wheeler, a certified public accountant in Los Angeles.