Numerous Washington-area lenders have started raising the interest rates and points charged on new and refinanced home mortgages whose loan commitments have expired, saying that they are under no obligation to extend the lower rates they had promised borrowers for 60-day periods.

Angry home buyers and homeowners seeking to refinance their high-interest mortgages complained to lenders this week that they were being charged more for their loans even though the delays in settling on their mortgages were not caused by them, but rather by the glut of loans that lenders, home appraisers and credit agencies are processing.

In one case, Falls Church real estate agent Wanda Greene said her lender, Cardinal Mortgage Corp. of Annandale, raised the points on her $135,000 refinanced loan from one to four as her 60-day loan commitment expired. With a point equal to 1 percent of the loan, the change would have cost her an additional $4,050. But she balked and refused to settle on the loan.

"I'm in a big heap of trouble," Greene said. "My plan is to hold on and hope that the rates come down."

In another instance, an Arlington couple was told that the interest rate on their $180,000 mortgage would be increased from 9 7/8 percent to 10 3/8 percent and the promised 2 1/2 points increased to four. The couple, disgusted, switched lenders, but even the new lender is going to charge them the higher rates, resulting in a bigger monthly mortgage payment and $2,700 more in closing costs.

Paul Rapchak, president of First Washington Mortgage, echoing the views of other lenders, said, "We're certainly not going to accommodate a three- or four-point loss just to be nice guys."

He said the delays do not rest with the lenders but, rather, with appraisal and credit-reporting firms and borrowers who, in search of the lowest rates, made loan requests with more than one lender.

Ronald Floyd, a loan officer with Cardinal Mortgage who is processing Greene's refinance application, said, "It's really hard to put the blame on anybody in the industry. It's not like we're trying to rip people off . . . it's life in this business." Moreover, he said that, even with slightly higher rates, borrowers will generally be ". . . better off than what they had."

With interest rates at their lowest levels in nearly a decade, thousands of homeowners here and elsewhere rushed to refinance their high-interest mortgages. Still others saw the opportunity to buy a house with a low-interest mortgage. Most lenders were caught off guard in the resulting frenzy, which has created an enormous backlog of mortgage applications. Loan-processing time at area lending companies has doubled and sometimes tripled to more than the normal 30-day period.

Up until recently, most home buyers and refinancers weren't bothered by the delays because mortgage rates generally were falling. But in the last two weeks, mortgage rates began slowly creeping upward, mostly because of the increase in oil prices, industry officials said. That turnabout has led to a storm of protest by angry consumers who have watched the low rates slip away at the same time their loan commitments were expiring, thereby costing them more money.

In Greene's case, her home's appraisal, a required step for refinancing, wasn't conducted until last weekend -- 11 weeks after she applied for her loan and three weeks after her original closing date, which has since been postponed.

The Arlington woman, who with her husband watched as the interest rate and points escalated on their $180,000 loan, said, "They dangled a very attractive rate in front of us. It just seemed a little funny that this is all happening when interest rates are going back up."

The couple also was forced to postpone the closing on their current home until this week. They said they hope to move into their new home, but only as renters -- a move they admitted is risky because additional interest rate increases could put the home out of their price range.

Several home buyers and refinancers contended that, although lenders legally may raise a borrower's rate after the 60-day lock-in period has expired, mortgage firms should have a moral or ethical responsibility to maintain the rates for a reasonable period of time. They reasoned that the delays lie with the mortgage industry, not with the borrowers.

"Maybe they ought to be a little bit more flexible with their clients. It's really an ethical issue of how responsive they are to us," the Arlington woman said.

But for the mortgage lenders, who have begun to feel the borrowers' wrath over the last 10 days, being more flexible is not an issue. Several lenders interviewed said they would lose money with the recent market swing if they didn't pass on the costs to the borrower. In addition, most agreed that, if borrowers' rates are raised, they are still better off than a year ago, a concept that doesn't sit well with most consumers.

Michael Massella, regional vice president for Investors Home Mortgage, denied charges made by many home buyers that lenders are delaying the mortgage process because they would rather write a loan at 10 1/2 percent than at 9 1/2 percent.

"I think that's ridiculous . . . a lot of people are furious and, quite frankly, so are we," Massella said.

Some lenders, such as Investors, have begun instituting new programs so that borrowers can secure a low rate for a longer period of time, but not without costing consumers more money.

At Investors this week, for example, a conventional loan with a locked-in rate for 60 days was set at 10 1/4 percent. For a 75-day lock-in, the rate was 10 3/8 and, for 90 days, it was 10 1/2 percent.

William Middleton, manager of the Montgomery County and District offices of Weaver Brothers, said that about 25 percent of the mortgages at his branches are being affected by the rate increase, "and that number's changing daily."

But for home buyers who risk losing out, the increase in rates is frustrating.

Cynthia Gorostiaga, an Arlington resident, said the processing delays have postponed her scheduled move to her new Annandale condominium, as well as cost her additional money in monthly payments.

Although Gorostiaga's loan was approved well within the 60-day lock-in period, the buyer's loan for her current condo wasn't. Gorostiaga said she was forced to postpone the closing on her new home because she could not afford to maintain both residences. As a result, her new loan has now gone beyond its 60-day lock-in schedule, which will cost her more unless rates go down before her rescheduled June 14 closing. Her locked-in rate on the $68,000, 30-year loan was at 9 1/2 percent and 1 3/4 points.

As of Thursday, B. F. Saul Mortgage Co., Gorostiaga's lender, was offering rates at 10 percent and 3 1/4 points. If such increased rates remain stable until her closing, Gorostiaga will pay an additional $1,020 in closing costs and $25 extra each month over the life of the loan.

But Stephen Cox, B. F. Saul's senior vice president, said, "Obviously we're running a business, too. . . . I don't think lenders are acting immoral or unethical."st rate increases could put the home out of their price range.

Several home buyers and refinancers contended that, although lenders legally may raise a borrower's rate after the 60-day lock-in period has expired, mortgage firms should have a moral or ethical responsibility to maintain the rates for a reasonable period of time. They reasoned that the delays lie with the mortgage industry, not with the borrowers.

"Maybe they ought to be a little bit more flexible with their clients. It's really an ethical issue of how responsive they are to us," the Arlington woman said.

But for the mortgage lenders, who have begun to feel the borrowers' wrath over the last 10 days, being more flexible is not an issue. Several lenders interviewed said they would lose money with the recent market swing if they didn't pass on the costs to the borrower. In addition, most agreed that, if borrowers' rates are raised, they are still better off than a year ago, a concept that doesn't sit well with most consumers.

Michael Massella, regional vice president for Investors Home Mortgage, denied charges made by many home buyers that lenders are delaying the mortgage process because they would rather write a loan at 10 1/2 percent than at 9 1/2 percent.

"I think that's ridiculous . . . a lot of people are furious and, quite frankly, so are we," Massella said.

Some lenders, such as Investors, have begun instituting new programs so that borrowers can secure a low rate for a longer period of time, but not without costing consumers more money.

At Investors this week, for example, a conventional loan with a locked-in rate for 60 days was set at 10 1/4 percent. For a 75-day lock-in, the rate was 10 3/8 and, for 90 days, it was 10 1/2 percent.

William Middleton, manager of the Montgomery County and District offices of Weaver Brothers, said that about 25 percent of the mortgages at his branches are being affected by the rate increase, "and that number's changing daily."

But for home buyers who risk losing out, the increase in rates is frustrating.

Cynthia Gorostiaga, an Arlington resident, said the processing delays have postponed her scheduled move to her new Annandale condominium, as well as cost her additional money in monthly payments.

Although Gorostiaga's loan was approved well within the 60-day lock-in period, the buyer's loan for her current condo wasn't. Gorostiaga said she was forced to postpone the closing on her new home because she could not afford to maintain both residences. As a result, her new loan has now gone beyond its 60-day lock-in schedule, which will cost her more unless rates go down before her rescheduled June 14 closing. Her locked-in rate on the $68,000, 30-year loan was at 9 1/2 percent and 1 3/4 points.

As of Thursday, B. F. Saul Mortgage Co., Gorostiaga's lender, was offering rates at 10 percent and 3 1/4 points. If such increased rates remain stable until her closing, Gorostiaga will pay an additional $1,020 in closing costs and $25 extra each month over the life of the loan.

But Stephen Cox, B. F. Saul's senior vice president, said, "Obviously we're running a business, too. . . . I don't think lenders are acting immoral or unethical."