Financial industry pushes for lower mortgage rates

Financial Crisis Posted on

Financial industry lobbyists are urging the Treasury Department to take steps to lower mortgage rates and help stabilize the battered U.S. housing market.

Under one proposal, Treasury would seek to lower the rate on a 30-year mortgage to 4.5 percent by purchasing mortgage-backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Scott Talbott, chief lobbyist at the Financial Services Roundtable, said Wednesday.

If enacted, such a plan would be an unprecedented opportunity for anyone with good credit and a solid income who could qualify for a mortgage at the lowest rates on records dating to the early 1960s, said Keith Gumbinger, senior vice president at financial publisher HSH Associates.

"You would have the mother of all re-fi booms," said mortgage industry consultant Howard Glaser.

The goal of the industry's proposal would be to take advantage of the unusually large difference, or spread, between mortgage rates and yields on government debt. On Wednesday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note yield sank as low as 2.65 percent, while the national average rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgages was 5.75 percent, according to HSH Associates.

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