Mortgage Rates Decline this week, Purchase Home contracts rose in September, First Time unemployment filings near decade low

October 27, 2016

Mortgage rates declined this week after two consecutive higher weeks and remain at historically low levels. Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that the 30-year fixed conventional mortgage rate fell to 3.47% from 3.52% with 0.6 in points. Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1% of the loan amount. “Mortgage rates continue to be relatively stable and at near record lows,” said Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist.

Signed contracts to purchase homes rose in September from August with big gains seen in the South and West. The National Association of REALTORS® reports that September Pending Home Sales rose 1.5% versus the 0.6% expected and up from the 2.5% decline in August. Pending Home Sales are up 2.4% from a year ago. Pending Home Sales are based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos and co-ops. A signed contract is not counted as a sale until the transaction closes.

Americans filing for first time unemployment benefits continue to hover near multi-decade lows as the sector has improved dramatically since the end of the Great Recession back in mid-2009. The Labor Deportment reported that Weekly Initial Jobless Claims fell 3,000 to 258,000 in the week ended October 22, which was in line with estimates. Claims have now remained below the 300,000 mark for 86 straight weeks, which is normally associated with a robust job market. The four-week moving average of claims, which strips out volatile food and energy, rose 1,000 to 253,000.