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Rate hits 5, but the end isn’t nigh

By Holden Lewis · Bankrate.com
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Posted: 9 am ET

Mortgage rates hit 5 percent for the first time since May, in this week's Bankrate.com rate survey. Read Marcie Geffner's story to find out why.

Actually, we can't know for sure why rates have risen so much, so quickly. How quickly? Six weeks ago, the 30-year fixed was 4.42 percent, the lowest it's ever been in the 25-year history of Bankrate's weekly survey. When rates move this fast, all explanations are guesses. We can talk all day about tax deals, the eurozone debt crisis, and inflation, but when bond yields are this volatile, there's some mass psychology involved, too. Maybe we should interview sociologists to find out why mortgage rates are zooming up.

In this week's RTI, almost three-quarters of respondents believe mortgage rates will rise over the next week. A solid majority voted the same way the previous week, and they were right.

With rates way up, to 5 percent, allow me to add some perspective. Since Bankrate began its weekly mortgage rate survey in August 1985, the average rate on the 30-year fixed is 7.67 percent. The average since the beginning of 2000 is 6.25 percent. The average last year was 5.38 percent.

So far this year, the average is 4.86 percent, and the median is 4.88 percent.

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