BY LESLIE COOK

JUNE 22, 2020

With mortgage rates hovering near historic lows, real estate markets are experiencing a surge in buyer interest after months of stagnation. Inventory remains low with sellers still cautious, but experts see signs owners are starting to list as more regions come out of coronavirus lockdowns. On Monday, New York became the latest city to allow in-person showings.

According to a new report by the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales in May were down 26.6% from a year earlier. “Sluggish May sales reflect early challenges among homebuyers and the real estate industry to adapt to COVID,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. “Buyers usually close on a home a month or two after they find it, which means many May sales where in process when shelter-in-place orders were most widespread.”

The supply of existing homes is down 19% compared to a year ago according to the NAR report, leading to an increase in home prices. “Although demand certainly dropped in March and April due to the crisis, supply dropped even more, and has thus far kept home prices from declining,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. “We expect that home price growth will pick up during the summer due to insufficient supply levels.”

With home prices rising, “new sellers are starting to realize that it’s a seller’s market and you’re seeing more (homes) come to market because they’re literally selling immediately and over list price,” said Ralph DiBugnara, president of Home Qualified, a real estate education series. “Interest rates are as low as they’ve ever been, so people are realizing it’s cheaper to buy now than it was before.”

For the week ending June 12, the number of new mortgage applications increased 8% from the previous week and was up 21% from a year ago, according to data released Wednesday by the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refinance applications continue to lead the rebound, increasing 10% compared to the previous week and just about doubling the number of applications filed during the same week last year. Refinance loans made up 63% of all loan applications, up from 61% last week.

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders published on Tuesday, builder confidence increased 21 points to 58 (on a scale of 100). The monthly survey asks builders about their expectations for single-family home sales over the next six months. Any score above 50 is considered “good.” The survey recorded a low of 30 during the month of April, the height of the COVID-19 related lockdowns.

“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward,” said Dean Mon, chairman of the NAHB. “Inventory is tight, mortgage applications are increasing, interest rates are low, and confidence is rising.”

Average Mortgage Rates Today

The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.13% with 0.8 points paid for the week ending June 18, according to Freddie Mac. That’s 0.02 percentage points below the previous all-time low of 3.15% set May 28.

According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 2.58% with 0.8 points paid, down 0.04 percentage points from last week, while the average rate on a 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage also decreased slightly to 3.09% with 0.4 points paid.

Average Refinance Rates Today

A year ago the average rate was 3.84%. A homeowner with a $250,000 mortgage balance paying 3.84% on a 30-year loan could cut their monthly payment from $1,170 to $1,071 by financing at today’s lower rates. (It is important to note that refinancing involves closing fees and will reset the clock on your mortgage, meaning you will have to make payments longer.)

Today’s Mortgage Rates

Of course, mortgage rates vary widely by location and personal factors like the type of property you plan to buy, the size of your down payment, and your credit score. Here are today’s advertised mortgage rates at some of the mortgage industry’s largest lenders.