Mortgage rates rise on Federal Reserve’s decision to pull back on stimulus

December 19, 2013

(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Mortgage rates began to wander upward again just as the Federal Reserve announced that it would start winding down its stimulus program early next year.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, mortgage rates already had started to climb, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average rose to 4.47 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 4.42 percent a week ago and 3.37 percent a year ago. Since spiking to 4.58 percent in late August, the 30-year fixed rate has bounced between 4.57 percent and 4.1 percent.

(Pam Tobey/The Washington Post)
(Pam Tobey/The Washington Post)

The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.51 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.43 percent a week ago and 2.65 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate had remained below 3.5 percent since late September.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also increased. The five-year ARM average edged up to 2.96 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.94 percent a week ago and 2.71 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average went up to 2.57 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.51 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates rose slightly leading up to the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “The statement indicated that the central bank would begin to trim its bond buying program. The Fed noted that the economy expanded at a modest pace, but the unemployment rate remains elevated. In addition, housing starts in November rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,091,000, the highest rate since February 2008. Permits were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,007,000 in November, 7.9 percent higher than in November 2012.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications took a downturn last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, dropped 5.5 percent. The Refinance index fell 4 percent, while the Purchase Index declined 6 percent.

“Mortgage applications fell further last week, with the market index falling to its lowest level in more than a dozen years,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics said in a statement  “Both purchase and refinance applications fell as interest rates increased going into [Wednesday’s] Federal Open Market Committee meeting.”

The refinance share of mortgage activity rose slightly, accounting for 65 percent of all applications.

Twitter: @KathyOrton, @postrealestate

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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Kathy Orton | December 19, 2013