On Christmas Eve, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported a 10 basis point decline in mortgage interest rates for the month of November. Data from FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) cover conventional single-family mortgages and distinguish whether the loans are for the purchase of new or existing homes. In October, rates on existing home loans declined while rates on new home loans stubbornly continued to inch up. But in November, rates on both types of loans declined. In particular, the November data show a 6 basis point decline in the average contract interest rate on loans to purchase newly-built homes, from 4.32 to 4.26 percent.Initial fees have the potential to offset a decline in the contract interest rate, but the initial fees on mortgages for new homes also declined in November, from an average of 1.30 to 1.27 percent. (Although down from October, this is still relatively high by historical standards, as the average fee on new home loans has only been as high as 1.27 percent five times since 1996.) The combination of declines in the contract rate and initial fees took the average effective interest rate on new home loans (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) down 8 basis points to 4.39 percent (after two consecutive months above 4.40).
The November data on conventional new home mortgages showed relatively little change in the average size of the loans ($302,000), the average price of the homes purchased with the loans ($401,800), or the average loan-to-price ratio (77.4 percent).
The MIRS collects data on loans closed over the last five working days of the month. For other caveats and survey details, see the technical note at the end of FHFA’s December 24 MIRS release.