For several weeks, mortgage rates have hovered near record low. However, the most recent Freddie Mac survey shows that the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has climbed from 3.92% to 4.08%, its highest level since late October 2011. Since the beginning of 2012, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has gone back and forth within a very narrow range – 3.87% and 3.98%.
In addition, the 15 year fixed rate mortgage climbed to an average of 3.16% in the past week to 3.30%. Mortgage rates follow the yield on the team year Treasury note. An onslaught of good economic news in recent weeks has motivated investors to move out of the safety of long-term U.S. Treasury into equities. This dynamic has pushed the yield on treasury bonds higher.
According to the latest economic reports, employment has gone up. The 8.3 unemployment rate is the best in the last three years. Wages have also shown a slight increase. The Retail Sales Report, released earlier this week, also show strength in most of the categories measured by the Commerce Department.
Home Sale Activities Pointing Up
Signs of increase home sales late have continued through the first weeks of March. According to the National Association of Realtors, the first couple months of 2012 has been the strongest period seen in home sales in the last five years- or since the financial crisis of 2008.
In addition, homebuilders have grown increasingly confident; evidence by the increase in applications submitted for housing permits to build single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings. A key measurement of builder’s confidence shows that builders anticipate traffic flow for homes sales to increase over the next six months.
Housing Market Remains Fragile
Despite the optimism regarding the improved health of the housing market and economy, metrics that measure strength in the housing industry and the economy are still demonstrating weakness. The high number of foreclosed homes and hundred of thousands of borrowers in the process of facing foreclosure still bears watching. According to many analysts, the housing market may not fully recover for years.
Lock in Low Rates Now
This renew confidence in the US economy means homebuyers who have been sitting on the fence, in terms of making a decision of whether to buy a home or rent, now have the motivation to buy that condominium, townhouse or single-family home before mortgage interest rates go even higher.
Homeowners who plan to refinance their homes through conventional mortgage refinancing programs or the government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) also should move quickly to take advantage of low interest rates.