mortgage

Mortgages end 2016 with a 9-week streak of rising rates

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Mortgage rates have gone up nine weeks in a row -- something that's happened only one other time in the last 31 years.

But that doesn't tell the whole story. Mortgage rates have risen 12 of the last 13 weeks. Guess what happened that one week when they didn't rise? They stayed the same.

So, mortgage rates never fell during the fourth quarter of 2016. Bankrate has compiled mortgage rates since September 1985. In those 31-plus years, this is the first time that rates never fell for a full quarter of a year.

The only other nine-week streak of mortgage rate increases happened from September to November 2005. In that time, the 30-year fixed rose from 5.8 percent to 6.42 percent -- an increase of 0.62 of a percentage point. This streak was bigger: Mortgage rates rose 0.76 of a percentage point.

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Mortgage rates this week

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose this week to 4.32 percent from 4.31 percent, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 4.15 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 4.13 percent.

The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.24 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.79 percent. This week's rate is 0.53 percentage points higher than the 52-week average.

  • The benchmark 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.56 percent.
  • The benchmark 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.57 percent from 3.56 percent.
  • The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage rose to 4.37 percent from 4.36 percent.

Weekly national mortgage survey

Results of Bankrate.com's Dec. 28, 2016, weekly national survey of large lenders and the effect on monthly payments for a $165,000 loan:

30-year fixed15-year fixed5-year ARM
This week's rate:4.32%3.57%3.57%
Change from last week:+0.01+0.01+0.01
Monthly payment:$818.48$1,185.24$747.39
Change from last week:+$0.97+$0.82+$0.83

The 30-year fixed averaged 3.79 percent in 2016. It averaged 3.99 percent in 2015, and 4.3 percent in 2014.

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Some borrowing advice

This is one of the quietest weeks of the year for mortgage applications. This run-up in interest rates has dampened refinance activity, so this final week is even slower than usual for mortgage lenders. That means you might get a nice level of personalized attention or you might find that some important people are on vacation. Or a combination.

"Communication shouldn't be too different even during a week that is bookended with holidays," says Shaun Guerrero, branch manager for Alterra Home Loans in Silverdale, Washington. "However, if the process has had some turbulence, a good idea to do is be proactive in the process."

What he means: "Send an email to your lender communicating your closing date and any concerns that you may have regarding timing, and ask if there is any reason the closing date may not happen on time." He also recommends asking if anyone is going on vacation and who will handle communications during that time.

Another recommendation from Guerrero: "After you send the email, send a text message to your lender and agent, saying, 'Sent an email to you regarding closing.' The best thing you can do is be upfront and keep communication going."

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