Mortgage Rates Thursday, Feb. 9: Holding 3-Week Lows; Return of Move-Up Home Buyers?

Mortgage Rates, Mortgages
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Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates are unchanged and 15-year fixed rates are lower today, while 5/1 ARM rates ticked up, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders Thursday morning.

Overall, home loan interest rates are clinging to three-week lows. Yet some lenders are tapping margins higher; others are discounting slightly. In the absence of major economic reports to point to, the bond market has been rallying the past couple of days, and mortgage rates have receded a bit.

Without a clear catalyst, the direction could change at any moment.


Mortgage Rates Today, Thursday, Feb. 9

(Change from 2/8)
30-year fixed: 4.32% APR (NC)
15-year fixed: 3.69% APR (-0.02)
5/1 ARM: 3.81% APR (+0.01)

More move-up home buyers may be in the money

Americans are staying in their homes longer — nearly eight years, on average — and a lack of home equity is one reason why. But that may be changing. The number of homeowners “seriously underwater,” where the mortgage amount exceeds a property’s value by at least 25%, is at a five-year low, according to Attom Data Solutions.

At the end of 2016, some 5.4 million seriously underwater homes accounted for 9.6% of all U.S. properties, down from 11.5% at the end of 2015, the report says.

>> MORE: The pros and cons of home equity lines of credit

“Since home prices bottomed out nationwide in the first quarter of 2012, the number of seriously underwater U.S. homeowners has decreased by about 7.1 million, an average decrease of about 1.4 million each year,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions, said in a release.

The report says the massive loss of home equity during the housing crisis forced owners looking to upgrade, known as “move-up buyers,” to remain in their homes longer before selling. That helped to further reduce housing inventory for first-time home buyers.

“Between 2000 and 2008, our data shows the average homeownership tenure nationwide was 4.26 years, but that average tenure has been trending steadily higher since 2009, reaching a new record high of 7.88 years for homeowners who sold in 2016,” Blomquist added.

Meanwhile, the number of “equity-rich” properties — where the mortgage amount is 50% or less of the property’s estimated market value — totaled 13.9 million at the end of 2016, an increase of 1.3 million from a year ago.

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.

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Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: hal@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @halmbundrick.

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