Mortgage Rates Reverse 11-Week Trend

After inching downward for 11 straight weeks, Mortgage rates have taken the turn, according to Freddie Mac’s (FRE) Primary Mortgage Market Survey released Thursday. 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 5.12 percent with an average 0.7 point this week, significantly up from last week’s 4.96 percent average, yet still below the year-ago average of 5.48 percent. “Fixed-rate mortgages followed bond yields and edged up this holiday week,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist.  “However, over the first three weeks of 2009, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 0.25 percentage points below its monthly average for December 2007.  As a result, the number of mortgage applications for refinancing was roughly about 86 percent of all conventional loans over the same time period.” It’s worth noting if a lender’s workload — in this case, possibly caused by the surge in refis — exceeds their capacity to process loan applications, often times they will raise rates to slow the volume of applications. Regardless the reason, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage average also climbed this week, reaching 4.80 percent, compared to 4.65 percent last week. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs were no exception, rising to 4.92 percent from last week’s 4.89 percent average. Five-year Treasury-indexed ARMs, on the other hand, continued to ease, averaging 5.24 percent compared to last week’s 5.25 percent.’s weekly mortgage rate survey also reported a rise in mortgage rates, citing inflation fears as the driving force. The survey’s results showed that the 30-year fixed-rate benchmark rose 31 basis points to 5.59 percent. “I think it’s the Obama spending fear,” Michael Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, told Bankrate of the rate increase. When bond investors foresee inflation, the result is higher bond yields, explained Bankrate’s Holden Lewis, which obviously results in higher mortgage rates. Write to Kelly Curran at Disclosure: The author held no relevant investment positions when this story was published. Indirect holdings may exist via mutual fund investments. HW reporters and writers follow a strict disclosure policy, the first in the mortgage trade.

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