Earlier today, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported a 10 basis point decline in mortgage interest rates for the month of January. Looking into the data a little further shows that the story was essentially the same for the subset of mortgages used to purchase newly built homes,
On conventional mortgages for new homes, FHFA tables show the average contract interest rate declining from 4.03 to 3.92 percent—the first time it’s dipped below 4 percent since May.
Meanwhile, average initial fees and charges on the loans, increased slightly from 1.16 to 1.18 percent. The result was a 9 basis point decline in the average effective interest rate (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) on new home loans, from 4.14 to 4.05 percent.
While the average size of the mortgages declined, from $336,500 to $331,700, the average price of the new homes purchased with the loans moved in the opposite direction—recovering from $437,300 to $440,300 after a one month dip. Although not quite up to the November peak, this is still the second highest average new home price on record.
The combination of smaller loans and higher price took the average loan-to-price ratio on new home mortgages down from 78.9 to 77.3, a ratio more typical of recent history (the average for 2014 was 77.6).
This information is based on FHFA’s Monthly Interest Rate Survey (MIRS) of loans closed during the last five working days in January. For other caveats and details on the MIRS methodology, see the technical note at the end of FHFA’s February 26 news release.