Mortgage rates crept higher this week on news of slightly higher home construction levels in December and steady economic growth ahead, according to surveys conducted by Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com.
In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage edged up to an average 6.25 percent from last week’s 6.23 percent, while the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage held steady at 5.98 percent. Points, which are fees lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 6 percent this week, with an average 0.4 point, down from 6.04 percent last week. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 5.49 percent, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week’s 5.51 percent.
“Mortgage rates were mixed this week on news that December’s leading indicators, a measure of future economic activity, signaled steady growth in the coming months,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a statement. “And in the housing market, December’s new construction came in stronger than expected despite a decline in one-unit residence starts.
“Over the coming week, a flurry of reports will provide further readings on the strength of the housing market and economic conditions. Primary among these will be the first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth, and we could see interest rates change in response. Also, Fed monetary policy makers will convene over the 30th and 31st next week and decide on whether to adjust the target short-term interest rate as well.”
In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates increased again this week with the average 30-year fixed rate rising to 6.32 percent, and these loans had an average of 0.34 discount and origination points.
The average 15-year fixed rate mortgage popular for refinancing inched up to 6.07 percent, according to Bankrate.com, and on larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate increased to 6.56 percent. Adjustable mortgage rates moved higher as well, with the average 5/1 ARM rising to 6.21 percent and the average one-year ARM increasing to 6.04 percent.
Bankrate.com said mortgage rates increased again this week despite the absence of any blockbuster economic data. Instead, all signs continue to point to the Fed staying on hold with interest rates for an indefinite period. While economic data has been resoundingly strong, continued moderation in inflation affords the Fed the flexibility of being hands-off long enough to sort it all out. With no rate cut imminent, and even the possibility of a rate hike should it be warranted, bond yields and mortgage rates — whose movement is closely interrelated — have trended higher in recent weeks.
The following is a sampling of Bankrate.com’s average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas:
New York – 6.28 percent with 0.15 point
Los Angeles – 6.43 percent with 0.48 point
Chicago – 6.48 percent with 0.05 point
San Francisco – 6.23 percent with 0.69 point
Philadelphia – 6.33 percent with 0.31 point
Detroit – 6.4 percent with 0.01 point
Boston – 6.38 percent with 0.1 point
Houston – 6.25 percent with 0.53 point
Dallas – 6.17 percent with 0.55 point
Washington, D.C. – 6.21 percent with 0.49 point