This is sort of fun:
Mortgage rates, St. Cloud home loan applicants and soon-to-be-applicants should be delighted to hear, went down again last week. The national average quoted in the Washington Post notched down to 3.61% on a 30-year fixed loan, down from blah blah blah…
You will probably not be surprised by the presence of the multiple blahs. By now, everyone in St. Cloud has simply heard this so often and for so long that it has practically lost all meaning. But it’s sort of fun to realize that we were already celebrating the decline in mortgage rates to 3.8% a year ago, although it was pointed out even back then that we’d been hearing it for so often and so long…
Despite the repetition, in the real world of St. Cloud—where low mortgage rates translate into very real payment dollars saved every month—this is the kind of news that impacts a family’s future disposable income more than any other. The difference between last year’s average mortgage interest rate and that average last week means savings of more than $13,000 over the span of a $350K loan. And that was just the improvement since last year. The savings over historical average mortgage rates (7.49%) amounts to a gasp-inducing $306,000 for the same loan…a difference that surely deserves banner headlines.
That didn’t happen. Even the most financially sophisticated journals seemed to have all but succumbed to the numbness-producing sameness of the news, partly because the Fed’s announced plan to raise their Fed Funds rate seems to be fizzling out. The Economist described the moves by the Federal Reserve variously as “lackluster” and “dovish.” “If any other lift-off were so sluggish,” they yawned in the print edition, “you would not want to be aboard the rocket.”
There was little more excitement evident at The Wall Street Journal, who focused on guessing what mortgage rate changes might be in store. They found that the mix of good and bad economic numbers meant that the Federal Reserve “may opt to simply wait”—rather than rocking the boat and raising in June, as had been expected.
“Mortgage Rates: Trending Down Going Into Homebuying Season” was the most excitement Forbes’ headline writers could muster; possibly because the news that followed was anything but new. Forbes quoted Freddie Mac’s chief economist with his less than stirring pronouncement: “Since the start of February, mortgage rates have varied within a narrow range.” Forbes’ deduction? “For now, home loans are really cheap.”
Does this mean that St. Cloud home buyers can relax for a while longer, content to rely on an extended period of this kind of bargain-basement financing? Perhaps. But although those historical averages are reassuring when compared to current mortgage rates, they also stand as a sobering reminder of what the new normal could become. In other words, if striking while the iron is hot is still common sense, giving me a call sooner rather than later could be a prudent move!