Mortgage rates over the last year

Mortgage rates: Suppressed for most of the year

Mortgage borrowers saw rates hit bottom in the first half of 2013, but soon they were forced to say goodbye to those low rates.

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate reached its lowest level of the year, 3.52 percent, in early May, according to Bankrate's weekly survey. The low-rate party ended quickly, once Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spooked the markets with talks of reducing the pace of the bond-buying stimulus program that had long suppressed rates.

The 30-year fixed spiked by more than a percentage point over the summer, reaching a high of 4.75 percent by late August, according to Bankrate's survey.

"The timing was clearly a surprise to Ben Bernanke and everyone else," says McBride. "But an eventual increase in mortgage rates was expected."

Rates have fallen slightly since then, but it's extremely unlikely that they will ever go back to the lows seen in 2013, says Michael Becker, a mortgage banker with WCS Funding in Baltimore.

For rates on home equity loans and lines of credits, 2013 was a quiet year. The typical home equity loan stayed in a tight range, ending the year at around 6.09 percent.  The average HELOC rose from about 5 percent to 5.17 percent.


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