According to an article in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch on 12-16-2010— Mortgage rates jumped again this week, with rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reaching a seven-month high and the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage above 4% for the first time since the end of July, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates.
“Market concerns over stronger economic growth that, in the near term, could lead to an increase in inflation have sparked a rise in bond yields and mortgage rates have followed,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist of Freddie Mac, in a news release.
Interest rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.83% for the week ending Dec. 16, up from 4.61% last week. The mortgage averaged 4.94% a year ago.
Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.17%, up from 3.96% last week. The mortgage averaged 4.38% a year ago.
Adjustable-rate mortgages also rose, with the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaging 3.77%, up from 3.6% last week. The ARM averaged 4.37% a year ago.
And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 3.35%, up from 3.27% last week. The ARM averaged 4.34% a year ago.
To obtain the rates, all mortgages required an average 0.7 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.
“The growth in retail sales excluding automobiles in November was twice that of the market consensus forecast. Industrial production showed the biggest gain in November since July, according to the Federal Reserve Board. And consumer sentiment, as measured by the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index, rose to a six-month high in December,” Nothaft said.
“As a result, interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages this week were the highest since the week of May 20 of this year,” he said.
Housing starts also showed a modest rebound in November, the Commerce Dept. said Thursday. See Economic Report on housing starts.
And foreclosure activity took its biggest drop in nearly six years and filings fell under 300,000 in November, RealtyTrac said Thursday
But it’s possible that rates will head lower in the weeks ahead, said Paul Anastos, president of Mortgage Master, an independent mortgage lender based in Walpole, Mass.
“I don’t think we will hit the lows that we did hit, but I think the rates will bounce back,” Anastos said. “I don’t see enough good economic trends to say that the rates will stay high.”
Those in the market to buy a home shouldn’t change their approach as a result of higher rates, he said. More important to prospective buyers is whether they have a job, are confident they’ll keep it and are sure that the home is affordable for the long term, he added.
But for those in the market to refinance, act now if it will save you money or — if you also believe that rates could reverse course — get your paperwork in order before rates do drop so you’re ready to take action when it’s time, Anastos said.
“There are definitely a lot of people who missed the opportunity,” he said. When rates are near record lows for such a long stretch, “you almost get complacent that the rates will continue to stay low.
If you are looking to refinance or purchase a home, now is the time to act and lock in rates before they incress even more.
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