KEY POINTS

  • Last week the 30-year FRM averaged 2.93%
  • One year ago the FRM averaged 3.56%
  • Black Knight said there are now 19.3 million high-quality refinance candidates

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., better known as Freddie Mac, said Thursday that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, or FRM, has fallen to an average of 2.86%. It marks the lowest rate in history, dating back to 1971, for the week ended Sept. 10.

Last week, the 30-year FRM averaged 2.93%, while the FRM averaged 3.56% for the same period in 2019.

“Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late-summer slowdown in the economic recovery,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity, which is up 25% from a year ago and has been growing at double-digit rates for four consecutive months.”

However, Khater cautioned that heading into the fall it “will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com, told International Business Times that record-low mortgage rates provide a “boost to the already strong housing market, but that won’t cure the problem of lack of inventory of homes available for sale.”

McBride added that low rates are “also fueling refinancing activity among homeowners looking to reduce interest costs and cut their monthly expenses.”

Black Knight Inc., a mortgage technology, data and analytics provider, said that record-low mortgage rates have had a big impact on the number of people who could both benefit from and likely qualify for a refinance.

“There are now 19.3 million high-quality refinance candidates, the largest this population has ever been, representing 43% of all 30-year mortgage-holders,” Black Knight said.

Black Knight noted that the average savings for the aforementioned 19.3 million refinance candidates is $299 per month, or an aggregate of $5.8 billion per month, if all refinance candidates were to take advantage of the opportunity.

“That is the largest aggregate savings ever available through refinancing,” the firm said.

Black Knight defines “high-quality” refinance candidates as 30-year mortgage-holders with credit scores of 720 or higher, who hold at least 20% equity in their homes, are current on their mortgage payments and who stand to trim at least 0.75% off their first-lien rate by refinancing.

“If we remove the eligibility criteria, there are 32.4 million 30-year mortgage-holders with rates 0.75% or more above the prevailing rate,” Black Knight said. “That’s three out of every four homeowners with a 30-year mortgage.”