Freddie Mac, the federally chartered mortgage investor, aggregates rates from about 80 lenders across the country to come up with weekly national averages. The survey is based on home purchase mortgages. Rates for refinances may be different. It uses rates for high-quality borrowers with strong credit scores and large down payments. Because of the criteria, these rates are not available to every borrower.
The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 2.93 percent with an average 0.8 points. It was 2.77 percent a week ago and 2.19 percent a year ago. The five-year adjustable rate average rose to 2.8 percent with an average 0.3 points. It was 2.71 percent a week ago and 2.79 percent a year ago.
“The Freddie Mac fixed rate for a 30-year loan resumed its upward momentum this week after a three-week hiatus,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com. “Rates increased along with the surge in the 10-year Treasury which passed 1.9 percent this week. … The stronger-than-expected employment report for January and rising inflation are keeping investors bullish on the economy and the expected rate hikes from the Federal Reserve in the first half of the year. With rising rates, mortgage applications to purchase a home declined last week, as many first-time buyers were priced out of the market.”
January’s better-than-expected employment report pushed long-term bond yields to their highest level in years. The U.S. economy added 467,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate grew to 4 percent as more people looked for work. The data suggested a resilient economy despite a surge in coronavirus cases caused by the omicron variant.
“Payroll data released late last week showed much stronger than anticipated job and wage growth, as many expected some slowdown due to the surge in covid-19 cases in January,” said Paul Thomas, vice president of capital markets at Zillow. “All of this points to more hawkish expectations for the Federal Reserve, driving interest rates higher. Markets are pricing in further rate hikes.”
Investors reacted to the news by sending the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.96 percent on Tuesday, its highest close since July 2019. It slipped to 1.94 percent on Wednesday. The movement of the 10-year Treasury tends to be one of the best indicators of where mortgage rates are headed.
Consumer price index data, released Thursday morning, showed prices rose 7.5 percent in January, compared with a year ago, the fastest inflation since 1982. Inflation causes fixed-income investments like bonds to lose value, which is why investors demand more in return for holding them. When yields rise sharply, it’s because investors want to be paid more for lending long term.
“As inflation goes, so go mortgage rates,” said Elizabeth Rose, sales manager at Mortgage300.
Bankrate.com, which puts out a weekly mortgage rate trend index, found more than three-quarters of the experts it surveyed expect rates to continue to rise in the coming week.
“A stronger-than-expected jobs number last Friday not only left economists stunned but also signals liftoff to the Fed and rate hikes,” said Gordon Miller, owner of Miller Lending Group. “Mortgage rates will likely drift higher as the market now guesses at the size of the rate hike in March.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications tailed off last week. The market composite index — a measure of total loan application volume — decreased 8.1 percent from a week earlier, according to Mortgage Bankers Association data. The refinance index dropped 7 percent, while the purchase index fell 10 percent. For the fourth week in a row, the average purchase loan size hit a new high. It was $446,000 last week. The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 56.2 percent of applications.
“Rising mortgage rates have been a recurring theme in 2022,” said Bob Broeksmit, president and chief executive of MBA. “Lenders are still working with homeowners who are interested in refinancing, but activity in recent months continues to fall below the record levels seen over the last two years. Although applications to buy a home also declined, most prospective home buyers have been unfazed by higher rates. Insufficient inventory — especially at entry-level prices — remains the biggest hurdle.”