US mortgage rates starting to stabilize, but January is still a good time to refinance

US mortgage rates starting to stabilize, but it's still a good time to refinance
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The mortgage market has steadied after potential homebuyers enjoyed two straight weeks of falling interest rates. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the average rate for a 30-year mortgage with a conforming loan balance remained unchanged at 3.87% for the week ending January 17, 2020.

As a result, demand for purchase loan and refinance applications fell off last week, with applications to buy a home down 2% but still up 8% year-on-year

"Mortgage applications dipped slightly last week after two weeks of healthy increases, but even with a slight decline, the total pace of applications remains at an elevated level. The purchase market has started 2020 on a strong note, running 8 percent higher than the same week a year ago," said the MBA's Joel Kan.

Overall, conditions remain competitive for potential homebuyers. While predictions that mortgage rates would continue to fall may have missed the mark, it's important to note that the 3.87% average is still the lowest 30-year mortgage rates have been since September 2019. 

Indeed, rates for 15-year mortgages have continued to drop, falling to 3.25% (from 3.30%) last week – their lowest point since November 2016

This means the time is still ripe to consider what the best mortgage lenders are offering this January. Similarly, there's also good reason reason to cast an eye to the best reverse mortgage companies and see if that kind of arrangement might meet your needs.

Refinance demand dips but conditions still ripe

It's also still a great time to consider a refinance. Refinancing is essentially when you change the terms of your mortgage to take advantage of more beneficial interest rates, and is a move that often saves existing homeowners money in the long-run.

As such, anyone who took out a mortgage in recent years may find that looking at the best refinance mortgage companies is prudent, given the current favorable market conditions.

Kan noted that, "refinance applications remained near the highest level since October 2019," whilst adding that his "expectation is that rates will stay along this same narrow range" due to ongoing uncertainties. 

While progress in a US/China trade deal had helped the market recover, investors were still seeking the security of government-backed assets, he said.

"Even with more positive developments surrounding the U.S. and China trade negotiations and healthy retail sales data, investors seemed cautious and maintained their demand for safer U.S. Treasuries, which kept yields lower," Mr Kan commented.

As per the most recent MBA data, refinance demand dipped by 2% week-on-week but was up by 116% compared to the same time last year. Check out the absolute latest mortgage rates  at LendingTree to see if it's time to make your big move.

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James Laird

A technology journalist with nearly 10 years of experience, James is the former News and Features Editor at Trusted Reviews, and has also served as regional Editor of Lifehacker. His articles have been spotted on sites ranging from The Sun to InStyle, but his true love is shiny things and the story behind them. An avid golfer in his spare time, you'll also regularly catch him hovering over the BBQ listening to Pearl Jam.