Interest Rates on the Rise

​Two articles all buyers and sellers should read…

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30-year mortgage rate rises again, now at 4.08%

Mortgage Rate Trend Index

Half (50%) of the industry experts polled this week by Bankrate.com think that rates will continue to rise over the short term, though 30% predict relative stability. Only 20% foresee a decline.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Dec. 1, 2016 – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates marked a fifth week of surges in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election win, reaching their highest levels this year.

Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year fixed rate loan rose to 4.08 percent from 4.03 percent the previous week. The benchmark rate topped its 3.93 percent level of a year ago.

The rate on 15-year home loans, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, jumped to 3.34 percent from 3.25 percent.

Long-term mortgage and interest rates have climbed in the four weeks since Trump’s surprise victory on Nov. 9 to become the country’s next president.

Bond investors are looking toward tax cuts and increased government spending to upgrade roads, bridges and airports under a Trump administration, which could fuel inflation. That would depress prices of long-term Treasury bonds because inflation would erode their value over time. When bond investors foresee rising inflation, they demand higher long-term yields and pay lower prices for bonds. Bond yields move opposite to prices and also influence long-term mortgage rates.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond stood at 2.38 percent Wednesday, the same as a week earlier and up from 1.87 percent on Election Day Nov. 8. It climbed to 2.45 percent Thursday morning, its highest level since July 2015.

More immediately, Federal Reserve policymakers are expected to raise the central bank’s benchmark rate at their Dec. 13-14 meeting for the first time in nearly a year. Fed Chair Janet Yellen recently told Congress that the case for a rate boost has “continued to strengthen.”

The effect of advancing mortgage rates could be seen in reduced activity by prospective homebuyers. Applications for mortgage loans fell 9.4 percent in the week ended Nov. 25 from a week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Applications for refinancing dipped 16 percent.

Higher mortgage rates, along with rising house prices, could eventually reduce demand for housing.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged this week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also remained at 0.5 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year loans rose to 3.15 percent from 3.12 percent. The fee was steady at 0.4 point.

Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mortgage rate increases help and hurt homebuyers

NEW YORK – Dec. 1, 2016 – With mortgage rates ticking up as investors anticipate the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in December, the cost of borrowing is increasing, and that’s leading some new homebuyers to speed up their purchases while discouraging homeowners from refinancing existing mortgages.

While mortgage applications for home purchases were essentially flat during the week ended Nov. 25 from the week earlier, refinancings dropped 16 percent. That meant overall applications fell 9.4 percent, according to Mortgage Bankers Association figures released Wednesday and adjusted to accommodate for the Thanksgiving holiday.

MBA chief economist Mike Fratantoni projected mortgage originations would fall in 2017 due to a sharp drop in refinancing. But he said in an email that new-purchase mortgages would increase about 10 percent in 2017 “based on the strengthening economy, employment and housing demand. The housing market will continue to do well so long as the job market remains strong, and we anticipate a further drop in the unemployment rate in 2017.”

Average interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages hit levels not seen since July 2015, according to MBA. Rates for mortgages with balances of $417,000 or less were 4.23 percent, while rates for mortgages with balances of more than $417,000 were 4.18 percent.

“With mortgage rates going up, affordability is down,” said David Berson, former chief economist of Fannie Mae and current chief economist at Nationwide Insurance, in an interview. But “affordability is still at a fairly high level.”

Dave Liniger, CEO of brokerage franchisor RE/MAX, agreed higher rates shouldn’t harm the housing market “at all. In fact,” he said in an email, “a rising interest- and mortgage-rate environment could actually cause an uptick in demand, with savvy buyers wanting to get into homes and lock in their rates more quickly.”

There are some indications homebuyers might be taking a breather as rate increases accelerate. New-home searches on real estate site Zillow.com have “essentially been flat for the last month,” Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas said in an interview. Still, Terrazas said big life decisions and local housing inventory are bigger factors than interest rates for homebuyers.

Mortgages issued to purchase homes, rather than refinancing existing mortgages, are still humming along at an encouraging clip. Some “fence sitters” are buying now to avoid higher rates later, Berson said. What’s more, the strong housing market and wage increases are encouraging many buyers to take the plunge.

Still, higher prices are crowding out some homebuyers. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices reported Tuesday that home prices hit an all-time high in September, rising 5.5 percent from a year earlier and 0.4 percent from August. Prices averaged $184,800 in September, surpassing July 2006’s peak of $184,620.

Copyright © 2016, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY, Nathan Bomey

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