mortgage

Mortgage rates climb. Lock your rate this week

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The mortgage market didn't wait.

Blame this week's rise in mortgage rates on the Federal Reserve, which is probably going to raise short-term interest rates next week. The 30-year fixed went up 0.07 percentage point to nearly a three-year high.

And mortgage rates are much more likely to continue to climb over the next week, according to the mortgage experts who vote in Bankrate's weekly Rate Trend Index. 90 percent of the RTI voters predicted that mortgage rates will rise over the next week. (That includes my vote.)

Should you lock?

So, shopping for a mortgage or refi this spring?

Should you rock your rate? | Bankrate

With mortgage rates on the rise, it's better to apply for a mortgage sooner rather than later. Our mortgage calculator can help you estimate how much your monthly payments would be.

You should lock the mortgage rate if you're closing within the next month, because there's a risk that a couple of economic developments will send mortgage rates higher in the short and medium terms:

  • Friday morning, the February employment report comes out. A strong report would send mortgage rates higher. By "strong report," I mean net job creation of more than 195,000.
  • On the afternoon of March 15, the Fed will update its monetary policy. The central bank is expected to raise the Federal funds rate by one-quarter of a percentage point.

Mortgage rates are at a level that assumes that a Fed rate hike is a done deal. That conviction will be solidified if job creation (known as "nonfarm payrolls") is robust.

Mortgage rates this week

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose this week to 4.38 percent from 4.31 percent, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 3.87 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 4.27 percent. This is the highest level for the 30-year fixed since it was 4.44 percent the week of April 30, 2014.

The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.26 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.86 percent. This week's rate is 0.52 percentage points higher than the 52-week average.

  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.49 percent.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.48 percent.
  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 4.35 percent from 4.3 percent.

Weekly national mortgage survey

Results of Bankrate.com's weekly national survey of large lenders conducted March 8, 2017 and the effect on monthly payments for a $165,000 loan:

30-year fixed15-year fixed5-year ARM
This week's rate:4.38%3.57%3.57%
Change from last week:+0.07+0.08+0.09
Monthly payment:$824.31$1,185.24$747.39
Change from last week:+$6.80+$6.49+$8.30

Fed anticipation

There's no mystery behind this increase in mortgage rates: It's in anticipation of next week's almost-certain Fed rate hike. I think mortgage rates will rise even further -- because the mortgage market prefers to stay ahead of the Fed when it's raising rates. That means applying for a mortgage now beats getting a loan later.

The central bank has predicted that it will raise rates three times this year. If the Fed hikes as expected on March 15, it will be just the first increase of 2017. The Fed hiked short-term rates in December 2015 after keeping them near zero percent for seven years. Another increase came in December 2016.

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