Earlier today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported a slight (3 basis point) rise in mortgage interest rates for December. However, the rise was driven entirely by loans used to purchase existing homes. The average contract interest rate on conventional mortgages for new homes actually moved slightly in the opposite direction from 4.26 to 4.24 percent.
Initial fees, which have the potential to offset a small change in the contract interest rate, edged down on mortgages for both new and existing homes. On mortgages for new home loans, the decline in initial fees was from 1.27 to 1.22 percent. The result was a decline in the average effective interest rate on new home loans (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) of 2 basis points to 4.24 percent, the lowest it’s been since August.
While the interest rate changes were very small, the average size of conventional mortgages used to purchase new homes, as well as the price of the new homes purchased with the loans, made notable gains. The average loan size increased 3.8 percent to $313,400, which represents an all-time high.
Meanwhile, the average price of a new home purchased with a conventional loan increased 1.9 percent to $409,500, also an all-time record (although it was nearly as high in April of 2013).
Because the average loan amount increased by more than the average new home price, the average loan-to-ratio price also increased, from 77.4 to 78.3 percent.
This information is based on FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) of loans closed during the last five working days in December. For other details about the survey, see the technical note at the end of FHFA’s January 30 news release.