February 2, 2006

MORTGAGE RATES CONTINUE UPWARD CREEP. “Mortgage rates will surely fluctuate in the weeks and months ahead, but the trend now is for higher rates over the long run,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist with the release of the weekly survey.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.23 percent, with an average 0.5 point, for the week ending February 2, 2006, up from last week’s average of 6.12 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year averaged 5.63 percent.

The average for the 15-year this week is 5.81 percent, with an average 0.5 point, up from last week’s average of 5.70 percent. A year ago, the 15-year averaged 5.14 percent.

“Still, to keep things in perspective, mortgage rates are currently only about one-half a percentage point higher than they were at this time last year," said Nothaft.

SHIFT TOWARD A BUYERS MARKET. Pending home sales continue to decline but are expected to recover in the months ahead, according to the National Association of Realtors. Home sales lag a couple of months behind movements in mortgage rates, said National Association of Realtors' chief economist David Lereah, adding that the slower sales pace at the end of 2005 was a result of rising mortgage rates in the fall.

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The Four Seasons Washington hotel, a 211-room hotel in Georgetown, has been purchased Strategic Hotel Capital Inc., a Chicago hotel-management company. The $168.9M deal is expected to close early this year. The price for the hotel at 2800 Penn. Ave. NW is the highest per room ever for a DC hotel.

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