The good news is that our troubled economy is getting healthier. But the not-so-good news is that the days of historically-low mortgage rates might be coming to an end. Here’s why: For quite a while now, the Federal Reserve has been stimulating the economy by keeping interest rates artificially low. In fact, rates on 30-year mortgages dropped to a record low of 4.78% earlier this year, but have slowly moved up to above 5% since June. One of the ways the Fed has kept rates low was by buying up mortgage-backed securities. But now the money is running out, and that means that rates may be on the rise.
When I was little, I had this Muppet Show Shrinky Dink set. It had every character from the TV show and a little pop-up stage so you could put on your own Muppet Show in miniature form. I loved that set so much. Somewhere along the way, it got thrown out or sold in a garage sale. As I got older I realized how much I missed that set and wished I could get another one. So, I went on eBay and lo and behold there was a set! But I wasn’t too excited about the asking price. I decided to hold out to see if I could find another, cheaper, set in the meantime. Of course, as these things inevitably happen, I couldn’t find one. And I’d missed my opportunity for winning the bid on eBay. That was about five years ago, and I haven’t been able to find a set for sale since.
Why am I telling you this, you ask? Because it’s my version of a mortgage fable, friends. Rates have been so low for so long that maybe you’ve been holding out for them to get just a little bit lower before you decide to refinance or buy that home you’ve had your eye on. But you know what? According to the Primary Mortgage Market Survey report released this week, rates are starting to rise. By no means have you missed your opportunity to take advantage of low rates – they’re still pretty darn near to record lows – but the trend might be on the upswing, and I would be woefully remiss if I didn’t try to encourage you to get in while the gettin’ is good.
May I present to you this week’s PMMS report for the week ending January 10, 2013:
30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose this week, reaching 3.40% with an average of 0.7 points. Last week they averaged 3.34%. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed rate averaged 3.89%.
15-year fixed-rate also rose this week to 2.66% with an average of 0.7 points, up from last week’s 2.64%. Last year, the 15-year rate averaged 3.163%.
ARMs were up this week. The 5-year ARM averaged 2.67% with an average 0.6 points, down a bit from last week when it averaged 2.71%. Meanwhile the 1-year ARM was at 2.60% this week with an average 0.5 points, up from last week when it averaged 2.57%. A year ago the 5-year ARM and the 1-year ARM averaged 2.82% and 2.76% respectively.
Let’s see what Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac, has to say about this week’s jump:
“Fixed mortgage rates increased slightly following a positive employment report for December. The economy added 155,000 jobs, above the consensus market forecast, and November’s job growth was revised upward by another 24,000 workers. This helped keep the unemployment rate steady at 7.8 percent, the lowest since December 2008. For all of 2012, 1.86 million jobs were created and represented the largest annual gain since 2006.”