Generally weaker than expected economic data again pushed Austin mortgage rates to new lows this week. In a highly anticipated speech Friday morning, Fed Chief Bernanke confirmed that economic growth has fallen below the expected levels in recent months. He also suggested that the Fed is unlikely to take further stimulus action unless the economy deteriorates significantly. The current Fed outlook is for below average economic growth with low inflation, which is a favorable environment for low Austin mortgage rates.

The impact of the homebuyer tax credit was seen in the weak housing market data released this week. July Existing Home Sales dropped 27% from June to an annual rate of 3.83 million units, the lowest level since May 1995. July New Home Sales showed a decline of 12% from June to the lowest level ever recorded. These figures sound terrible, but they really just demonstrate the effect of the homebuyer tax credit on the timing of purchases. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) still expects total existing home sales this year to be roughly the same level as last year.

Since the financial crisis, the Federal Housing Association (FHA) has grown rapidly and is now backing nearly half of all new home-purchase loans. To boost reserves and reduce risk to taxpayers, the FHA will raise the annual fee it charges to new borrowers. In particular, for case numbers ordered October 4 or later, it will raise annual insurance premiums (MIP) to 0.85% or 0.90%, based on LTV, up from 0.55%.