Lower Mortgage Rates Encourage Region 8 Refinancing

June 5, 2003
Posted at: 4:51 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, Ark. -- Thanks to a steady decline over the last three years, Region 8 residents are now taking advantage of the lowest home loan rates in history as they purchase or refinance homes in Northeast Arkansas.

Mortgages are now at another record low, just above 5% on 30-year-fixed rate. Just in the past seven days, a record number of Americans have applied for mortgages. The new boom in home building and buying are what the Federal Reserve hopes will continue to spur on the economy.

"The last several years, every year's been a record breaking year," said Fred Dacus of Fred Dacus Associates. "This year, year to date, we're up some 38% over this time a year ago. So it's just year after year, it sets a new record."

Mortgage rates change by the minute, but to give an idea, Thursday afternoon's numbers indicate that, for loans more than 100-thousand dollars, a 30-year-fixed rate stands at 4.875%, a 15-year-fixed is 4.375% and a 5-year-adjustable rate mortgage is at 3.625%.

"It's a great opportunity for all buyers, particularly first time buyers," Dacus said. "Since interest rates are at a historic low they can qualify to buy a much larger home than they could before and now there are mortgage programs out there for 100% financing."

Consumers are not only just buying homes, they are also refinancing their mortgages. At current rates, about 90% of all fixed-rate mortgages can be refinanced.

"We are actually refinancing people now that just refinanced last October," said Michele Gibson of The Mortgage Source. "Because the interest rates have gone down enough for them to do that.

"You have people going from 30-year loans to 15-year loans keeping their payment about the same, escalating the payoff of their loans," Gibson said. "Folks that are taking the cash out of their homes to do home improvement, debt consolidation, those kind of things.

"So it's just a wise time to make that kind of financial decision," she added.

What all this means is money is cheaper than at any time before, and the housing market will continue to support the economy. In addition, by one analysts estimation, the housing and mortgage industries together will be responsible for at least 50% of this years economic growth.