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

This week (Jan. 15 – Jan. 21) the experts say: Rates are likely to remain flat.

Experts’ comments and Bankrate analysts
Experts’ comments Panel
After a volatile few weeks, mortgage bonds seem to be taking a breather. Continued negative economic data and the Fed purchases of mortgage-backed securities should keep rates in the sub-5 percent range for the near term. My advice to clients is to take advantage of the low rates today, rather than wait. If rates increase, you made a great decision. If they continue to decrease, it is simple and cheap (sometimes at no cost) to refinance again.
David Kuiper, mortgage planner, First Place Bank, Holland, Mich.
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With retail numbers coming in low, consumer confidence still low, unemployment rising, we should see slightly lower rates. However, to make financial decisions based on speculation may prove costly. If it is cost-effective to buy or refinance, do it now. Don’t miss a great opportunity when it presents itself.
Steve Levitt, vice president of mortgage lending, Guaranteed Rate, Chicago
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The 10-year Treasury is trading at 2.19 percent with almost no inflation component left in the equation. It is clear that the incoming administration will do everything in its power to keep rates low, including bringing 30-year-fixed rates to 4.5 percent or lower by purchasing securities and keeping liquidity in the market. There is also talk that Fannie and Freddie will increase their loan amounts to as much as $1 million.
Mitch Ohlbaum, president, Legend Mortgage, Los Angeles
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I think we are at the bottom. Rates should stay flat for the next two months.
Bob Moulton, president, Americana Mortgage, Manhasset, N.Y.
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The Fed and Treasury are continuing to buy Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paper in an effort to drive mortgage rates lower. Despite those efforts, 30-year rates appear to have stabilized in the 5 percent range for borrowers with the best credit. I expect that will continue.
Mike Larson, interest rate and real estate analyst, MoneyandMarkets.com, Jupiter, Fla.
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All economic reports indicate that rates should be going lower. However, lenders are managing volume by keeping rates artificially higher than where they should be priced and people continue to make application. Even with rates being propped up, they are still very attractive and near all time lows. If it makes sense to do something now, don’t wait as volatility remains a risk. If you are looking to refinance, do not risk taking a 30-day lock, take a 60-day lock and be safe.
Jim Sahnger, mortgage consultant, Palm Beach Financial Network, Stuart, Fla.
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The Fed is deploying its $500 billion to manage mortgage markets.
Dan Green, Mobium Mortgage, author of TheMortgageReports.com, Cincinnati
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Conforming mortgage rates are still too high. It is in the best interests of the U.S. economy if the Fed gets more aggressive about buying FHLMC/FNMA paper and drives the rate down and actually parks it at a fixed rate for several months. I would suggest two options: 1) peg the 30 year conforming at 4.5 percent with no points (retail) or 2) create the stimulus mortgage I suggested a couple of weeks ago which I will repeat: fixed at 3 percent for 2 years; then 4 percent for next two years; 5 percent for the remaining 26 years.

This creates stimulus on the front end because homeowners would have more discretionary spending. If this were Fed-funded with increased money supply, the payments could go to reduce money supply. The eventual rate of 5 percent is designed to make this stuff marketable so it can get off the books of the government.
Dick Lepre, senior loan officer, Residential Pacific Mortgage, San Francisco

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Bankrate’s analysts Panel
The 30-year fixed is at a record low in Bankrate’s 23-year-old survey. It’s never been lower, and that’s why I believe it will end up higher.
Holden Lewis, senior reporter, Bankrate.com
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Bernanke is intent on pushing mortgage rates down, and he is getting his way.
Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst, 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.