Mortgage rates hit 9-month high after rising for six weeks in a row


Six weeks of increases have put the 30-year fixed-rate average at its highest level in nine months.

According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.17% with an average 0.7 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1% of the loan amount and are in addition to the interest rate.) It was 3.09% a week ago and 3.5% a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate average hasn’t been this high since June.

Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from around 80 lenders across the country to come up with weekly national average mortgage rates. It uses rates for high-quality borrowers with strong credit scores and large down payments. Because of the criteria, these rates are not available to every borrower.

The survey is based on home purchase mortgages, which means rates for refinances may be higher. The price adjustment for refinance transactions that went into effect in December is adding to the cost. The adjustment, which applies to all Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac refinances, is 0.5% of the loan amount. That works out to $1,500 on a $300,000 loan.

The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 2.45% with an average 0.6 point. It was 2.4% a week ago and 2.92% a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average climbed to 2.84% with an average 0.2 point. It was 2.79% a week ago and 3.34% a year ago.

“Moving forward, the general uptrend in mortgage rates is expected to resume as economic growth draws investors into stocks and out of bonds,” said Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist.

With more and more Americans receiving their stimulus payment and also a vaccine, the economic recovery is gaining momentum. Mortgage rates are being driven higher by the growing strength of the recovery and concerns that recovery will bring about inflation. Investors abhor inflation because it makes their long-term assets — mortgage-backed securities and Treasurys — worth less. As inflation fears become more persistent, investors sell those assets causing yields and mortgage rates to rise.

“March has been a bit of a wild ride,” said James Sahnger, mortgage planner at C2 Financial. “We opened up on March 1 with a 10-year Treasury at 1.39%, and it peaked at 1.75% last week and is now at 1.64%. Year-over-year economic comparisons in the months coming will be pretty strong, and we will just have to see how the market absorbs them.”

Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found the experts it surveyed nearly evenly split on where rates were headed in the coming week. About a third said they would go up, another third said they would go down, and another third said they would remain about the same.



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