In June 2020, average mortgage interest rates fell below three percent for the 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage—the lowest level in modern recorded history, according to Mortgage News Daily. What caused such a dip?
A stock market sell-off sent investors to the relative safety of the bond market, wrote housing journalist Diana Olick. Mortgage rates loosely follow the yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds. As more bonds were purchased, the yields went down and mortgage rates followed. But that’s not all that happened.
Also in June, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index hit its lowest number since June 2014. The simple reason is that lenders don’t like uncertainty, so to secure those lower interest rates, borrowers are subjected to higher credit score qualifications (700 or higher per JP Morgan Chase), the temporary shelving of some loan programs (no new jumbo loans per Wells Fargo) and higher down payments of at least 20 percent. Other criteria lenders use to limit risk includes lower loan-to-value ratios and higher income-to-debt ratios from borrowers.
Yet, despite a rocky economy, June mortgage applications were up a whopping 13 percent over the previous year. Freddie Mac forecasts that interest rates will remain at or near record lows and that housing prices will moderate throughout 2021.
So, what does this mean to you, the homebuyer or homeowner? If you have good credit, steady employment and a sizable down-payment, you’re in great shape to get or refinance a mortgage loan. In other words, nothing’s changed except tighter qualifications for higher-risk borrowers.