Mortgage rates moved slightly higher this week, reversing their month-long slide.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average crept up to 3.91 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.89 percent a week ago and 3.54 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 3.18 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.16 percent a week ago and 2.81 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 3.15 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.11 percent a week ago and 2.74 percent a year ago.
The upward swing in mortgage rates came ahead of the widely anticipated rake hike by the Federal Reserve. The central bank announced Wednesday it was raising its benchmark rate for the third time in six months.
The Federal Reserve also “announced plans to unwind its balance sheet this year,” Michael Fratantoni, MBA chief economist, said in a statement. “The Fed will begin to reduce the securities held on its balance sheet later this year, limiting the amount of securities that will be allowed to runoff each month. With lower caps for mortgage backed securities compared to Treasurys, it is possible that there will be less widening in mortgage spreads than previously estimated.”
The quarter-point hike came too late in the week to be factored into Freddie Mac’s survey. The government-backed mortgage-backer aggregates current rates weekly from 125 lenders from across the country to come up with a national average mortgage rate.
“Our survey was conducted before investors drove Treasury yields sharply lower in a reaction to the surprisingly weak CPI release,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement. “If that drop in yields sticks, mortgage rates are likely to follow in next week’s survey.”
The yield on the 10-year Treasury sank to 2.15 percent Wednesday. Because mortgage rates tend to follow the path of long-term bonds, it is likely that home loan rates will also fall next week.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half of the experts it surveyed say rates will remain relatively stable in the coming week. Michael Becker, branch manager at Sierra Pacific Mortgage, is one who expects rates to stay flat in the coming week.
“It’s hard to imagine that economic data could have a larger impact on mortgage rates than what the Federal Reserve says and does, but that’s exactly what happened,” Becker said. “The economic data that came out continued the trend of coming out softer than expected. … This, on top of a weak jobs report for May, has markets doubting the Fed will hike another time this year and start to unwind their balance sheet this year as well.”
Meanwhile, fueled by refinances, mortgage applications grew last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — increased 2.8 percent. The refinance index jumped 9 percent to its highest level since November, while the purchase index dropped 3 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 45.4 percent of all applications.
“Rates held steady at seven-month lows last week, providing continued support for a small resurgence in refinance activity and a continued year-over-year growth in purchase applications,” said Joel Kan, an MBA economist. “The refinance index increased 13 percent over the last two weeks and the average loan size increased to almost $275,000, the largest since September 2016. Purchase applications decreased over the week, but were up almost 8 percent compared to the same week one year ago.”