While the stock market roiled, mortgage rates held steady this week.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average ticked up to 4.86 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 4.85 percent a week ago and 3.94 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 4.29 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 4.26 percent a week ago and 3.25 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average increased to 4.14 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 4.10 percent a week ago and 3.21 percent a year ago.
“Mortgage rates were flat this week, remaining near seven-year highs despite volatile equity markets,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Often stock market instability pushes mortgage rates lower, as investors seek safe-haven. However, the reaction was mostly muted this week, suggesting that a return to rising rates could very well be on the horizon.”
Although rates were mostly held in check this week, others besides Terrazas see this as a temporary pause.
“We expect rates to continue to rise, which will put downward pressure on home buying activity,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement. “While higher borrowing costs will keep some people out of the market, buyers with more flexibility could take advantage of the decreased competition.”
However, some experts expect rates to go down a bit in the near term. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found a majority of the experts it surveyed say rates will recede in the coming week. Michael Becker, branch manager of Sierra Pacific Mortgage, is one who predicts lower rates ahead.
“The sell-off in equity markets has resumed this week,” Becker said. “Uncertainty about world economic growth, potential trade wars, midterm elections in the U.S., and even Italy’s budget battle with the E.U. are top concerns. I think the sell-off may have further to go and so we’ll see slightly lower rates in the coming week.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications picked up this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index -- a measure of total loan application volume – increased 4.9 percent from a week earlier. The refinance index climbed 10 percent from the previous week, while the purchase index rose 2 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 39.8 percent of all applications.
“Mortgage application activity rebounded the week following the Columbus Day holiday, but both purchase and refinance levels remained lower than where they were two weeks ago,” Joel Kan, an MBA economist, said in a statement. “The holiday impacted refinance applications more than purchases, as refinances rebounded almost 10 percent. Meanwhile, purchase applications increased 2 percent over the prior week but were still 4 percent lower than two weeks ago – a sign that both the jump in mortgage rates and tight inventory continue to hold back application activity.”
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