February 9, 2006

NO SURPRISES, STEADY MORTGAGE RATES. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.24 percent, with an average 0.6 point, for the week ending February 9, 2006, up from last week’s average of 6.23 percent, said Freddie Mac. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.57 percent.

The average for the 15-year fixed rate mortgage this week is 5.83 percent, with an average 0.6 point, up from last week’s average of 5.81 percent. A year ago, the 15-year averaged 5.10 percent. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.89 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 5.87 percent. A year ago, the five-year ARM averaged 4.99 percent.

"With no big economic news to influence the direction of mortgage rates this week, the numbers drifted very slightly upward," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist. "We see this trend continuing throughout 2006, with the 30-year fixed rate mortgage ending the year at about 6.3 percent as the housing market eases back from last year’s record setting levels toward a somewhat more normal rate of activity."

If rates do level out around 6.3 percent that would provide some certainty for buyers contemplating getting into the market, said Timothy Barnes of American Home Mortgage. With interest rates leveling off, "We'd have more confidence in the buying market and increased demand for morgtages to finance houses and condos by the end of the year," he predicted.

UPSCALE APARTMENTS are headed for unloved Woodward Building at 15th & H Sts. NW. SJG Properties, a family-owned property developer and manager, owns the 11-story Woodward Building and will convert it into 189 apartments that should be finished by the fall of 2007. Years ago there was talk of tearing the building down because it was not historically significant enough. We think this sign for "Woodward Liquor" on the building is cool, and Downtown is a better place with the Woodward there. ... Real estate developer Penzance Cos. is scheduled to break ground today on a 12-story, 250,000-square-foot office building at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW in NOMA.

pix by edwardaggie98

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