30-year mortgage rate flirts with record low

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Mortgage rates moved up a bit this week, although they remained near record lows, according to a Bankrate survey released Wednesday.

The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose 3.08 percent, up from last week’s all-time low of 3.05 percent, according to Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. 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 0.33 discount and origination points.

Mortgage rates have plunged since the coronavirus recession began earlier this year, propping up a surprisingly strong housing market. Home prices kept rising even as unemployment soared. The combination of tight supply and robust demand has sparked bidding wars in many corners of the country.

Defying the economic downturn, home values have been rising. Nationally, home prices rose 5.9 percent from August 2019 to August 2020, real estate data firm CoreLogic said Tuesday.

“The imbalance between homebuyer demand and for-sale inventory is particularly acute for lower-priced homes,” Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, said in a statement.

Mortgage experts polled by Bankrate expect rates to rise a bit through mid October, in part because the 10-year Treasury yield — which is closely linked to mortgage rates — has been rising.

Mitch Ohlbaum, mortgage banker at Macoy Capital Partners in Los Angeles, says President Donald Trump’s health after a COVID-19 diagnosis could drive mortgage rates. “If he manages to recover, the market will remain calm,” he says. “But if it turns worse, markets would get jittery and we would see some increase.”

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