Mortgage rates have started creeping back up again.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average rose to 4.54 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.52 percent a week ago and 3.78 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average increased to 3.99 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.97 percent a week ago and 3.08 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable-rate average climbed to 3.93 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 3.85 percent a week ago and 3.15 percent a year ago.
“Mortgage rates edged higher for the second week in a row, propelled by a steady string of strong manufacturing data and the prospect of another round of tax cuts,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Rates remain below their springtime highs, but are approaching the upper end of the relatively narrow range where they spent most of the summer. Markets will likely focus on Friday’s monthly jobs report — strong employment gains or wage growth could put additional upward pressure on rates — as well as several high-profile Fed speeches this week.”
Mortgage rates are influenced by several factors but they tend to follow the movement of the 10-year Treasury bond. When yields move higher, home loan rates often follow. This week, the yield on the 10-year bond grew to 2.90 percent, the highest it has been in four weeks.
“Borrowing costs may be slowly on the rise again in coming weeks, as investors remain optimistic about the underlying strength of the economy,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “It’s important to note that rates are now up three-quarters of a percentage point from last year and home prices — albeit at a slower pace — are still outrunning rising inflation and incomes.”
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found more than half of the experts it surveyed say rates will continue to rise in the coming week. Michael Becker, branch manager at Sierra Pacific Mortgage, is one who expects rates to increase.
“The first trading day of September saw a sell-off in Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities resulting in higher rates to start the month,” Becker said. “The weakness in bonds started before economic data was released, perhaps because bonds were in overbought territory. Looking forward, it would take a negative economic surprise for bonds and rates to rally. I don’t see that as a likely outcome over the next week, so I imagine rates will rise a little in the coming week.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 0.1 percent from a week earlier. The refinance index fell 1 percent from the previous week, while the purchase index ticked up 1 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 38.9 percent of all applications.
“Mortgage application volume barely moved, as an increase in seasonally adjusted purchase applications nearly offset a decrease in refinances,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and chief executive. “Purchase demand, 2 percent higher than the same week one year ago, continues to be supported by the strong job market, although home prices continue to rise faster than household income. In a promising sign that first-time home buyers are entering the market in greater numbers, average loan size for purchase loans dropped to its lowest level in our survey since December 2017.”
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