Mortgage Rates Seen Staying Below 4 Percent

by Steve Cook04 Jan 2013

Though a number of critical questions face the US economy, from the unfinished business in Washington like the debt limit and spending cuts to lackluster growth, the outlook for mortgage rates is relatively predictable and not very exciting.

Rates will stay low, below 4 percent on a thirty-year fixed mortgage, predicts Bankrate.com senior financial analyst Greg McBride.  Even the prospect that Congress might finally act on reforming the GSEs does not deter him from his view that the Fed will not abandon QE3 in light of the fragility of both the national economy and housing economies.

With Fannie and Freddie originating 90 percent of new mortgages, removing the government guarantee that helps make these loans possible would ruin the recovery.  “Say what they want about ending the GSEs, it’s not going to happen,” said McBride.

Nor does he see significant changes in lending standards that many claim are making it too difficult for first-time buyers to get financing.  “Today’s median FICO of 750 and other financial qualifications are not insurmountable to young buyers with low debt and good jobs.” he said.

“Lukewarm jobs reports of 155,000 to 160,000 new jobs are not enough.  We need to see job growth twice that size before the Fed should even think about changing its policies,” he said.

 

This week on Bankrate.com’s  Rate Trend Index, 55 percent of the panelists believe mortgage rates will rise over the next week or so, 27 percent think rates will fall, and 18 percent believe rates will remain relatively unchanged (plus or minus 2 basis points).

 

Bankrate.com surveys experts in the mortgage field to see if they believe mortgage rates will rise, fall or remain relatively unchanged. The panel is comprised of mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers and other industry experts who provide residential first mortgages to consumers.

 

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