Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

In each Economic Update, the Research staff analyzes recently released economic indicators and addresses what these indicators mean for REALTORS® and their clients. Today’s update discusses mortgage rates.

  • As expected, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate jumped to 4.51% for the seven-day period ending on July 10th.  That is an increase from 4.29% a week earlier and 3.98% for the second week in June.  The higher rates increased monthly principle and interest payments by roughly 6.5%.
  • After a modest improvement early last week, rates jumped Friday on positive employment figures.  Treasury and agency MBS traders interpreted the positive jobs news as evidence that the Fed would likely curtail its large scale asset purchases, including 10-year Treasuries and agency MBS, earlier than expected in September.
  • Rates have climbed in recent weeks mostly on speculation about when the Fed will end its purchases of MBS and Treasuries.  When that happens, the price of those assets will decline with the loss of the Fed’s demand, resulting in higher yields and mortgage rates.  The rollercoaster in rates in recent weeks is driven by traders trying to get ahead of that trend.
  • Regardless of the recent speculative gyrations, rates are likely to rise with economic expansion.  While that trend may curb affordability, it will ease price growth and expand employment helping to create sustainable growth in housing demand.
  • Applications for purchase mortgages fell 3.1% last week from the last week in June, the second consecutive decline.  However, the impact on the refinance side was much stronger.
  • While the recent increase in rates will impact affordability and cause some shoppers to reset expectations, rates are still low by historical standards.  Rates were well above 4.5% until mid-2011.   Furthermore, the decline in refinance activity will push lenders to search out more potential borrowers and ease credit standards, allowing access to credit for many borrowers who have been shut out in recent years and unable to take advantage of low rates.

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