After six consecutive weeks of run-up, mortgage rates turned tail and declined during the week ended August 18 (Freddie Mac) and August 19 (Mortgage Bankers Association.)

While decreases were not large, they were notable, and with the economy appearing a bit rocky and pundits predicting either a slow shhhhh or perhaps even a large POP of the much discussed "housing bubble" any rate relief is welcome.

Freddie Mac, in its "Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey" found the 30 year fixed rate mortgage down 9 basis points to 5.80 percent from the previous week and the 15-year fixed down 7 points to 5.40 percent. Fees and points for the 30 were unchanged at 0.5 and down from 0.6 to 0.5 for the 15-year. The 5/1 ARM declined from 5.40 percent to 5.34 percent but the 1-year ARM was up albeit negligibly from 4.57 to 4.58 percent. Points for the two ARMS were unchanged at 0.6 and 0.7 respectively.

This turn-about came after six straight weeks in which the 30 year fixed rose from 5.53 percent for the week ending June 30 and the 15-year climbed from 5.12 percent during the same period. The 1-year ARM had a longer straight period of increases and the 5/1 hybrid followed an upward but slightly more erratic trajectory.

The Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey echoed Freddie Mac's finding of rate decreases for the 30-year and the 1-year ARM but at a much lower level; each declined by only 1 basis point. The 30-year rate was 5.78 percent with 1.20 points (down .02) and the 1-year, 4.84 percent with points increasing from 1.01 to 1.05. The 15-year fixed, however, increased 1 basis point to 5.41 percent while points decreased to 1.19 from 1.25.

Mortgage application activity was down again from the previous week; 0.7 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 1.8 percent unadjusted. Still activity continued to run in double digits above the same period in 2004, in this case 17.2 percent higher.

Perhaps reflecting the slight dip in rates, MBA found that refinancing as a share of all mortgage activity was up to 43.7 percent from 42.4 the previous week and ARMS represented 28.1 percent of total applications, 8 basis points less than the week before.