The economic outlook keeps improving, and mortgage rates might finally be responding in kind. Rates rose this week, perhaps reflecting a long-anticipated upturn, according to a Bankrate survey released Wednesday.
The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.01 percent from last week’s record low of 2.95 percent, in Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. The 15-year fixed also rose, edging up to 2.45 percent from the previous week’s record of 2.37 percent.
Bankrate includes origination points and other fees in its figure. The 30-year fixed-rate loans in this week’s survey included an average total of 0.32 discount and origination points.
Mortgage rates have been in steady decline since the coronavirus recession struck in the spring of 2020, a trend that has helped drive the surprisingly strong housing market. The downward trend in mortgage rates reflects mixed signals from the economy. The latest spike in coronavirus cases undermined hopeful signs that COVID-19 vaccines soon will curb the pandemic, and the economic recovery so far has been uneven and incomplete.
In one sign of optimism, the 10-year Treasury yield, a key indicator for mortgage rates, has held above 1 percent. With Democrats poised to take control of the White House and Congress, the logic goes, a generous stimulus bill will follow.
“Inflation concerns and added supply are weighing heavily on the bond market, setting the stage for higher rates,” says Elizabeth Rose of AmCap Mortgage in Dallas.
Fully 45 percent of mortgage experts polled by Bankrate expect rates to rise in the coming week, while 36 percent expect rates to go fall. Jeff Lazerson of MortgageGrader in Laguna Niguel, California, is among those who think the U.S. economy is in trouble.
“COVID-19 is out of control,” he says. “Folks are hunkering down. Layoffs will mount.”