The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.15 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.05 percent a week ago and 4.26 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average held steady at 3.35 percent with an average 0.4 point, the same as it was a week ago. It was 4.1 percent a year ago.
“Mortgage rates rose this week, riding positive, albeit tentative, developments in Brexit and the U.S.-China trade conflict,” said Matthew Speakman, a Zillow economist. “It’s a pivotal moment in these two major geopolitical stories, so it’s likely that more volatility for mortgage rates is on the horizon.”
Speakman noted geopolitics and trade-related uncertainty have done more to affect mortgage rates lately than disappointing economic news.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.77 percent on Tuesday as investors encouraged by a possible Brexit deal shed bonds and moved back to equities. The 10-year yield had risen 12 basis points — a basis point is 0.01 percentage point — before retreating slightly on Wednesday. Mortgage rates tend to follow the same path as long-term bonds. When yields go up, interest rates tend to also go up.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found experts evenly divided on where rates are headed in the coming week. A third say they will rise; another third say they will fall and the remaining third say they will remain the same. Dick Lepre, senior loan officer at RPM Mortgage in San Francisco, is one who predicts rates will hold steady next week.
“There is no consensus where things are going,” Lepre said. “Fed policy is changing, tariffs seem to change at least twice a week, and some people are forecasting recession. Despite near-term uncertainty, the fact is that the U.S. economy continues to be healthier than most of the rest of the world and, as time goes on, flight-to-quality buying should lower Treasury yields and mortgage rates — just not this coming week.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications leveled out last week. According to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — increased 0.5 percent from a week earlier. The refinance index went up 4 percent, while the purchase index went down 4 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62.2 percent of all applications.
“Mortgage applications last week were essentially flat — up just 0.5 percent — as an increase in refinances offset a decrease in purchase applications for the second week in a row,” said Bob Broeksmit, MBA president and CEO. “Lenders in many markets continue to report that low mortgage rates have led to increased interest from prospective buyers, which is why purchase activity was still a solid 12 percent higher than a year ago.”