Mortgage Rates Hit Yearly Highs Heading Into Thanksgiving

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Mortgage rates have been on a tear since the election of Donald Trump. The 30-year fixed-rate average, the most popular home loan product, has shot up 46 basis points (a basis point is 0.01 percentage point) in two weeks and moved above 4 percent for the first time this year.

With the stock market soaring to a record high Tuesday, the sustained bond market sell-off is driving yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury surged to a yearly high of 2.34 percent Friday before settling in this week.

The movement of long-term bonds is 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 the experts it surveyed are equally divided on what rates will do after the Thanksgiving holiday. One-third said they will go up, another third said they will go down and another third said they will remain unchanged.

According to the latest data released Wednesday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 4.03 percent with an average 0.5 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.94 percent a week ago and 3.95 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate hasn’t been above 4 percent since December 2015.

The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.25 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.14 percent a week ago and 3.18 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average rose to 3.12 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3.07 percent a week ago and 3.01 percent a year ago.

“In a short week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, the 10-year Treasury yield rose 8 basis points,” Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist, said in a statement. “The 30-year mortgage rate followed suit, rising 9 basis points to 4.03 percent. This increase marks the first week since 2015 that mortgage rates have risen above 4 percent.”

Meanwhile, spurred by home buyers’ fears that the recent rise signaled the end of low rates, mortgage applications increased this week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index – a measure of total loan application volume – grew 5.5 percent from the previous week. The refinance index fell 3 percent to its lowest level since January, while the purchase index climbed 19 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 58.2 percent of all applications.

“The increase in purchase activity was driven by borrowers seeking larger loans and that drove up the average loan amount on home purchase applications to $310,000, the highest in the survey, which dates back to 1990,” Michael Fratantoni, chief economist at MBA, said in a statement.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Kathy Orton 

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