Mortgage Rates Monday, March 20: Down; Renters Less Optimistic on Home Buying

Mortgage rates today dropped for 30- and 15-year fixed loans by two basis points and one basis point, respectively, while 5/1 ARMs were unchanged, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders on Monday morning.

NAR: Consumers upbeat; renters wary on home buying 

More consumers, especially in rural areas and the Midwest, are growing increasingly confident in the U.S. economy and housing this year, but renters aren’t so optimistic about their ability to buy a home in the near future, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors.

In the quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey, years of positive job growth and post-election hope for more improvement this year has boosted consumer confidence in the economy to 62%, the highest share in the survey’s short history. That’s an “extraordinary reversal,” the NAR said, rising from 54% last quarter and 48% in March 2016.

» MORE: How much home can you afford?

Consumers’ confidence in the economy is also fueling a more positive outlook about households’ personal finances in the next six months. The survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index shows respondents’ optimism about their own financial situation surged to 62.6 in March,  the highest reading in the survey. That’s up from 59.8 in December and 58.1 in March 2016.

That confidence in the economy doesn’t translate to home-buying enthusiasm for renters. Just 56% of renters believe now is a good time to buy a home, a drop from 57% last quarter and an even sharper decline from 62% in March 2016. Younger families, renters and those living in the West, where home prices are highest, are the least confident, the survey found.

“Inventory conditions are even worse than a year ago, and home prices and mortgage rates are on an uphill climb,” NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said in the release. “These factors are giving many renter households a pause about it being a good time to buy, even as their job prospects improve and wages grow. Unless there’s a significant boost in supply levels this spring, these constraints will unfortunately slow or delay some prospective buyers’ pursuit of purchasing a home.”

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dkearns@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @debbie_kearns.

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