The lowest 30 Year fixed mortgage rates in 37 years is great news for those looking to buy a house or to re-finance. However, that truth (the lowest rate) masks another truth, that it is available to a somewhat limited pool of borrowers. The rates for jumbo 30 year fixed mortgages and for regular 30 year fixed mortgages, for those with lower credit ratings, are not at the lowest rates they have ever reached. And getting mortgage rates that don’t require a 10-20% down payment and fully documented financial position are not as low as they have ever been. 15 year fixed rates are also low, but are not at all time lows. FHA loans still allow very low down payments, but others have moved away from this practice (which is a wise move).
Current rates, national average, from Bankrate: 30 year fixed 5.26%, 30 year fixed jumbo 6.96% (a full 170 basis points higher rate), 15 year fixed 5.07%. Jumbo rates have been less than 40 basis points higher than conventional rates most of time (based on my memory – I am looking for a source to confirm). The site does not present the credit score but my guess is these rates are based on a credit score of 700, or higher. Last week the jumbo rates increased by 11 basis points and regular 30 year rates fell by 3 basis points.
On Nov 12, 2008 I shopped for an $800,000 30-year fixed-rate mortgage on Mortgage Marvel, an on-line site that I reviewed earlier in 2008 (see A Look at Mortgage Marvel). The mortgage companies on the site quoted rates of 8.125% to 8.375%. The credit unions and banks, in contrast, quoted rates ranging from 5.875% to 7.875%. I have never before seen rate differences on the same transaction this large. They no doubt reflect wide differences in lender access to funding, which is symptomatic of a market in turmoil.