With 30-year fixed mortgage rates falling below 4% for the first time since June 2013, the housing sector, along with homebuilder exchange traded funds, may find support from home buyers looking to lock in cheaper loans.
Market observers feared that rising rates would hinder new home purchases and weigh on homebuilder ETFs like the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (NYSEArca: XHB) and iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (NYSEArca: ITB). Year-to-date, XHB has declined 15.5% and ITB has decreased 14.1%.
“Rates have been under a bit of pressure so far this morning,” Mortgage News Daily’s Matthew Graham said in a CNBC article. “The first few rate sheets are right on the edge of 3.875 percent. Four percent would still be significantly more prevalent today, but 3.875 percent is out there for a few lenders.”
Fixed 30-year mortgage rates have been fallen off from an average of 4.5% over the past year as U.S. Treasury yields declined amid volatility in the U.S. equities market and weakness overseas. For instance, 10-year Treasury yields fell to 2.23% from the 2.62% September high. [Rising Rates Might not Crimp Homebuilder ETFs]
“Rates dipping below 4 percent might increase the sense of urgency for some home buyers,” Craig Strent, CEO of Apex Home Loans, said in the article. “That might be tempered, though, by low inventory in many areas, the result of which could increase competition for good homes, raising the sale price and potentially wiping out the benefit of the lower rate.”
Over the third quarter, two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) and J.P. Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), saw slight mortgage growth, reports Ruth Mantell for MarketWatch.
Wells Fargo revealed it made $48 billion in new home loans over the third quarter, slightly up from the prior quarter, while J.P. Morgan said loans hit $21 billion, up from $17 billion over the second quarter.