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Panel prediction
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Will rates rise or remain relatively unchanged? Experts and Bankrate analysts provide their insights.

This week (March 12 – March 18) the experts say: Like an eagle with no wings, rates aren’t going anywhere. More than two-thirds of the panelists believe mortgage rates will remain relatively unchanged (plus or minus 2 basis points) over the next 35 to 45 days. About a quarter think rates will rise, and the rest believe rates will fall.

Industry experts and Bankrate commentary
Experts’ comments Panel
Underwriting engines are like winning slot machines right now … very loose. Rates are low and appraisals are just a wink, wink. Now is the time to reduce monthly payments. Be thankful for what is now available.
Jeff Lazerson, president, Mortgage Grader, Laguna Niguel, Calif.
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Interest rates have remained between 5.20 (percent) to 5.30 percent (+1pt) for the last month despite debt issues mounting pressure on a sustained bond market sell off. Each time 10-year treasuries try to break the 3 percent barrier, there has been a technical level restricting this from happening. That is, until now. Government debt issues this year have grown to more than $340 billion while interest rates to borrowers have remained basically flat. My thought is that borrower interest rates will not sustain current levels and will be forced higher despite current government intervention.
Cameron Findlay, chief economist, LendingTree.com, Charlotte, N.C.
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I think we continue to see more of the same. Weak economic news, more buying from the Fed in mortgage-backed securities and continued paper supply coming from Washington adding pressure to drive all rates up. However, that pressure will be negated by the Fed action to buy mortgage paper. However, day-to-day volatility still exists. Lock when you can and it works for you. This is not a time to be greedy.
Jim Sahnger, mortgage consultant, Palm Beach Financial Network, Stuart, Fla.
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Mortgage-backed securities continue to trade in a very tight range. As the stock market feels for its bottom and shows potential signs of improving, it looks less likely that we’ll see rates improve significantly from where they are today. While we are within .250 percent of all-time record lows, it is the time to take advantage of current interest rates.
David Kuiper, mortgage planner, First Place Bank, Holland, Mich.
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Stock market rallies will force mortgage rates up.
Dan Green, mortgage planner, Mobium Mortgage, author of TheMortgageReports.com, Cincinnati
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I believe things should remain consistent while the Fed continues to purchase MBS. However, I’m cautious of the potential for an increase in rates due to the conversation Congress is having on the mark-to-market accounting topic this week.
Mark Madsen, mortgage consultant, Raintree Mortgage, Las Vegas
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There are still serious problems impairing the ability of mortgage loans to be made, much less have folks like myself guess what rate these loans will be made at. Rates will remain artificially high until there are changes made such as discussed by Bernanke on March 10 where banks are not forced to mark-to-market mortgage pools but instead make them to some standard which is in place as long as the market is impaired.

The substantial reduction is warehouse lines has reduced the ability of mortgage banks to meet the demand for refinancing. My point is that this bottleneck of available funds is creating artificially high mortgage rates.
Dick Lepre, senior loan officer, Residential Pacific Mortgage, San Francisco

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The 10-year closed today at 3.01 percent after dropping to 2.82 percent earlier this week. The inflation component remains low, unemployment keeps going up and the economy does not look healthy, but the rally in the stock market today drove rates up from earlier lows this week. We have not seen much in the way of relief from the bailout package but I suspect ultimately the Fed will do what they can to drive rates down and keep them down.
Mitch Ohlbaum, president, Legend Mortgage, Los Angeles
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Bankrate’s analysts Panel
Mortgage rates won’t fall off the same cliff the economy has.
Greg McBride, senior financial analyst, Bankrate.com
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In Bankrate’s weekly survey, rates have barely moved in the last month. We would see more variation if we did our survey daily instead of weekly. But that shouldn’t obscure the fact that rates are where the Powers That Be want them to be.
Holden Lewis, senior reporter, Bankrate.com
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About the Bankrate.com Rate Trend Index
Bankrate.com surveys experts in the banking and mortgage fields to see if they believe certificate of deposit and mortgage rates will rise, fall or remain relatively unchanged. For the deposit index, the panel comprises banks, thrifts and credit unions that directly offer FDIC-insured certificates of deposit to the end consumer. For the mortgage index, the panel comprises mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers and other industry experts who provide residential first mortgages to consumers. Results from Bankrate.com’s CD Rate Trend Index will be released monthly. Results from Bankrate.com’s Mortgage Rate Trend Index will be released each Thursday.