Pushed higher by rising bond yields, mortgage rates reached their highest levels since July.
According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.94 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.88 percent a week ago and 3.47 percent a year ago.
The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.25 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.19 percent a week ago and 2.78 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average rose to 3.21 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.17 percent a week ago and 2.84 percent a year ago.
“Rates increased late last week as the market responded to news of a Senate budget plan which may positively impact tax reform progress and more speculation around the future leadership of the Federal Reserve,” said Joel Kan, an economist with the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Investors’ enthusiasm for equities caused a sell-off in the bond market, driving prices lower and yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond shot up to 2.44 percent Wednesday, an increase of 10 basis points in a week. (A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.)
The movement of long-term bonds tends to be one of the best indicators of where mortgage rates are headed. When yields go up, home loan rates tend to follow.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found that more than half of the experts it surveyed say rates will rise in the coming week. Shashank Shekhar, chief executive of Arcus Lending, is one who predicts rates will move higher.
“Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) continue to see pressure as expectations of tax reform passing continues to increase as does the speculation that we will see a new Fed chair appointed by Trump whose approach will be more pro-growth,” Shekhar said. “As we know, good news for the economy is usually bad news for MBS and hence the mortgage rates. So expect the rates to continue to inch up in the coming weeks.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications declined last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 4.6 percent. The refinance index dropped 3 percent, while the purchase index fell 6 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 49.5 percent of all applications.
“Refinance applications decreased 3 percent in response to the bump up in rates,” Kan said. “Applications for home purchase loans decreased 6 percent over the week but were still almost 10 percent higher than the same week a year ago. Additionally, the average loan amount on purchase applications last week increased to $317,000, the highest since May 2017, as home prices remain elevated due to tight inventory.”