WASHINGTON (3/28/14)--Mortgage interest rates took a small step back in February, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) index of new mortgage contracts.
The rate fell 0.07% from January levels.
The FHFA data is driven by the national average contract mortgage rate, which tracks the initial interest rate on mortgages issued within the last five working days of a given month.
Because rates are typically locked in 30 to 45 days before a loan is closed, however, the data actually better reflects mortgage-rate conditions in January.
The average interest rate for traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages of $417,000 or less came in at 4.45% in February, a step down by 22 basis points. The average amount lent for all types of home loans was $275,000 in February, down about $8,700 from the month prior.
For previously occupied home purchases, the rate was 4.3% in February. The rate for the composite of all mortgage loans dropped to 4.22%, a 14-basis-point decline from the rate in January.
Though, after the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System meeting last week where newly seated Board Chair Janet Yellen indicated a possible increase in interest rates as soon as early 2015 (Washington Post March 26), fixed-mortgage rates jumped, according to data released by Freddie Mac.
Standard 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages climbed to 4.4% from 4.32% last week, and 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages moved up to 3.42% from 3.32%.