Freddie Mac’s weekly survey shows that the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage zoomed to 4.46, the biggest increase in 26 years. Last week, the average rate was 3.93 percent --jumping above the 4 percent mark for the first time since March 2012.
It’s the largest one-week increase in mortgage rates since July 28, 2011 when rates averaged 4.74 percent.
The 15-year rate increased to 3.5 percent compared to 3.04 percent the previous week. These rates are based on information obtained from mortgage lenders across the nation, but only, for applications where buyers made at least a 20 percent down payment.
What caused rates to surge?
The rates for home loans actually started trending up at the start of May. After the conclusion of last week’s Federal Open Market Committee ((FMOC) meeting, Chairman Benjamin Bernanke announced that the FMOC will consider cutting down it $85 billion a month stimulus program.
The latest version of the Fed’s monetary policy authorizes the purchase of $40 billion in mortgage–backed securities and $45 billion in Treasury notes. The program has flooded the market with low cost money and kept low-interest rate low for homeowners and businesses.
Instead of calming anxious bond investors, Bernanke’s statement that the Fed intends to scale back the program this year, and end it in the middle of 2014 if the economy continues to improve, has instead caused a surprising reaction and unexpected jump in rates.
In response to the Fed’s intention to cut its bond-buying program, bond investors are pulling capital from the market. They believe that higher rates mean there will be less of a demand for mortgages and treasury bonds, which causes interest rates to rise.
In less than a month, mortgage rates have increased nearly a full percentage point—50 percent of the increase since the Fed’s meeting.
What to do if you plan to refinance or buy
The financial markets that affect mortgage rates are pretty volatile now. However, m any economists dismissed any concern that rising mortgage rates will stifled the housing market recovery. Borrowers who want to complete a mortgage refinance, but missed out on rates 4 percent and lower, should allow the markets to settle down—especially if they will not save much money by refinancing.
For the many homeowners who still have mortgages 6 percent or higher—they maybe should wait a few days to allow rates to stabilize or go lower. Afterwards, they should make their move to lock in a rate, recommends Donna Angeloni, vice president of lending for the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.
Some mortgage lenders have what is called a”float-down” option. It gives borrowers the right to a lower rate if upon any rate decrease.
For home buyers, the historically low interest rate environment for mortgages and low home prices has been major reasons for the increase in mortgage originations. While many people watching the market have anxiety over interest rate increases, the final determinant of whether a person purchases a home comes down to affordability.
As long as home buyers can afford to pay based on the prevailing rates and residential real estate remains affordable, they will buy homes.