Reality Check

Reality Check

August 23, 2010

Low Mortgage Rates, But No Buyers

By Robert Hashemian, Vice President of Web Development

Another week and another series of record low mortgage rates. It has become an almost expected event. The 30-year fixed mortgage was down to 4.42% from 5.12% a year ago, while the 15-year rate was at 3.9% down from 4.56 a year ago. Both rates together with a number of ARM (News - Alert) mortgages were at record lows since 1971 when official record-keeping started.

One may assume that such low mortgage rates would spur a rush from buyers but the majority of the applications are from people seeking refinancing, rather than buying a home.

There are several reasons why the low rates haven't stimulated much home-buying activity. The economy is soft and uncertainty abounds. Many would be first-time homebuyers are simply afraid to risk their hard-earned money and many investors were wiped out as the result of sub-prime crisis.

Lending standards are also to blame for the current lull in the home market. While before the financial crisis potential mortgage applicants were inadequately screened, now applicants are put through an overly tough evaluation process that many simply can not pass and many more may be too fearful of the approval process to even attempt it.

As for the rest of the market many qualified applicants have simply been turned off by the housing crisis and may never even give home ownership any consideration. A recent study by seems to support that conclusion, showing that 27% of renters will never buy a home.

All that and a soft job market have created a condition where demand for housing is abysmal and the glut of homes continues to keep the housing market saturated. For those contemplating a home purchase things are as good as they can get, low prices and low borrowing costs. But unfortunately there just isn't enough of them to go around.

Robert Hashemian is VP of Web Development for with a keen interest in financial markets. To read more of Robert’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also maintains his personal Web site at

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