Mortgage rates were up sharply this week, bouncing back from record lows following the release of a better-than-expected jobs report, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
While forecasters expect rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will stay well below 5 percent through 2012, strong economic growth could trigger a faster rise in long-term interest rates, including mortgages.
Freddie Mac said rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.12 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending Oct. 13, up from 3.94 percent last week, an all-time low in records dating to 1971. At this time last year, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.19 percent before climbing to a 2011 high of 5.05 percent in February.
For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, rates averaged 3.37 percent with an average 0.8 point, up from 3.26 percent last week, a low in records dating to 1991. A year ago, rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.62 percent, before climbing to a 2011 high of 4.29 percent in February.
Rates on five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.06 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from 2.96 percent last week, a low in records dating to 2005. A year ago, rates on five-year ARMs averaged 3.47 percent, before climbing to a 2011 high of 3.92 percent in February.
For one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs, rates averaged 2.9 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 2.95 percent last week. At this time last year, the one-year ARM averaged 3.43 percent, before climbing to a 2011 high of 3.4 percent in February. The one-year ARM hit a low in records dating back to 1984 of 2.81 percent during the week ending Sept. 15.
A separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed buyers weren’t rushing to lock in loans at last week’s record lows. Demand for purchase loans was up a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent from the week before during the week ending Oct. 7, but down 2.9 percent from a year ago.
While an economic recovery could send mortgage rates climbing again, the European debt crisis has raised doubts about whether growth will pick up in 2012.
Economists with the Mortgage Bankers Association are predicting 2012 will be another tough year for home sales, with purchase loan origination volume growing by only 3 percent.
Europe is in or will soon be in a recession, said MBA chief economist Jay Brinkmann, forecasting that the U.S. can expect rising unemployment during the first half of the year and could be headed for "a short and relatively mild recession."
In a forecast issued Tuesday, Brinkmann said he and his staff expect existing-home sales to remain subdued, at a rate of 4.9 million per year during 2011 and 2012, before increasing slightly to 5.2 million units in 2013 in conjunction with a broader economic recovery.
Although mortgages were affordable throughout the year, MBA economists expect purchase loan originations will total just $400 billion in 2011, down from an estimated $472 billion in 2010.
If 2012 is another year of slow economic growth, the MBA predicts purchase loan volume will again remain below 2010 levels, rising only slightly to $412 billion. Not until 2013, when the economy is expected to pick up steam and home sales and prices are expected to increase, will purchase loan demand show solid growth, increasing to $770 billion for the year, the MBA said.
If an economic recovery remains subdued, the MBA expects rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans will average just 4.4 percent during 2012 before climbing to 4.9 percent by 2013.
In a Sept. 19 housing forecast, economists at Fannie Mae predicted sales of existing homes would rise 2.1 percent next year, to just over 5 million, and 3.1 percent in 2013, to nearly 5.2 million.
Fannie Mae economists said they expect rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans to average 4.3 percent next year, down from a projected 4.5 percent in 2011, before rising to 4.6 percent in 2013.
Freddie Mac economists said in a September forecast they are anticipating a more rapid rise in mortgage rates, with 30-year fixed-rate loans averaging 4.6 percent next year and 5.4 percent in 2013.