But uncertainty over the impact the president-elect will have on the economy could drive investors back into the safety of bonds. Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found the experts it surveyed were split on where rates are headed in the coming week. Half said rates will rise, while 40 percent said they will remain relatively unchanged. Ten percent say they will fall. Shashank Shekhar, chief executive of Arcus Lending, was one of those surveyed who believe rates will move higher.
“Long bond traders know that in 2017 we will have a Senate, House and executive office all controlled by Republicans,” Shekhar said. “They view this as very positive for economic growth, resulting in higher inflation, which is bad news for bonds. Mortgage rates are already inching toward the highest level of the year and will most likely continue that climb for the rest of the year.”
The election results came too late in the week to be factored into Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage lenders. The government-backed mortgage-backer aggregates current rates from 125 lenders from across the country weekly to come up with national average mortgage rates.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.57 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.54 percent a week ago and 3.98 percent a year ago. For the first time since June, the 30-year fixed rate has remained above 3.5 percent in back-to-back weeks.
The 15-year fixed-rate average jumped to 2.88 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.84 percent a week ago and 3.2 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average inched up to 2.88 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.87 percent a week ago and 3.03 percent a year ago.
“This week’s survey reflects pre-election market conditions,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement. “As a result, the 30-year mortgage rate increased to 3.57 percent, only 3 basis points higher than last week’s level. On Wednesday, the 10-year Treasury yield closed above 2 percent, about 25 basis points higher than its pre-election value and its highest yield since January. At this point, it is too soon to tell whether Treasuries will hold this new level or if the mortgage rate will increase as much over the coming week.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications declined this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — fell 1.2 percent from the previous week. The refinance index dropped 3 percent to its lowest level in six months, while the purchase index increased 1 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62.3 percent of all applications.
“Applications for home purchase loans increased for only the second time in the past six weeks, but purchase activity in 2016 has generally been stronger than in 2015 and we saw a 10.7 percent year over year increase last week,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist. “Refinance activity decreased for the fifth consecutive week as rates continue to trend higher. … As the new presidential administration takes shape, it will become more clear which tax, regulatory, and housing policies will be in play.”