Everyone agrees this time. Mortgages rates dropped last week in all categories. This is the third straight week that Freddie Mac has recorded a decline; the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) did, however, report a slight upward blip at one point during that period.

And, the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development issued their monthly report on new home sales which pegged sales of new one-family houses at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,431,000 for March.


So, are we back to the frenetic market of 2003/2004?

There is too much going on in the economy or even in the housing industry to draw any long term conclusions, but living only for the moment, here are the happy numbers.

Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended April 21 reported the 30-year fixed down to 5.80 percent from 5.91 the previous week. The 15 year dropped 10 basis points to 5.36 percent and the 5/1 ARM slipped to 5.22 percent from 5.31 percent. The 1-year was off less dramatically ' 4.26 from 4.30 percent. Fees and points also declined from 0.7 to 0.5 for both fixed rate categories and 0.1 to 0.6 for the 5/1. The one year continued at 0.6.

This report brought Freddie Mac's numbers for fixed rate mortgages close to those last seen for the week ending March 3 when the 30-year was at 5.79 and the 15-year was at 5.33. The ARMS for the following week were nearly identical those reported now. All rates at that point were already on an upward track which continued for another four weeks before starting the current slide.

MBA's weekly survey reported all rates tracking slightly lower than Freddie's survey. The 30 year was down to 5.75 percent from 5.83 the previous week, the 15 year was at 5.33 percent, and the 1-year ARM at 4.15 percent ' both down 7 basis points from a week earlier.

MBA also reported that refinances were up again ' to 39.3 percent of all mortgage activity from 38 percent a week earlier. The ARM share of activity was down to 34.7 percent from 35.4 the previous week.

Now to the new house sale report.

The Census/HUD Report adjusted the previously reported February new house sales rate from 1.226,000 units as reported in late March to 1,275,000. The estimated figure for new home sales for March is 1,431,000, 12.2 percent above the revised February figure and 12.7 percent above the March 2004 figure of 1,270,000. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new homes for sale at the end of last month was 433,000. This is a supply of 3.6 months at current absorption rates and represents the lowest inventory since March of last year. The median sales price, however, was down from $234,100 to 212,300 since February.