Mortgage Trends This Week: Oct. 26

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The U.S. mortgage market, just like a pro football coach whose team is winded after a long drive, took a time-out last week, with interest rates pretty much holding steady.

That long drive seems to be a good one for lenders, but not so much for borrowers. While rates were content to stay steady this week, the long-term outlook looks more and more like an inflationary one, which should trigger higher mortgage rates before too long. That means higher interest payments for mortgage customers.

Any specific reasons? Yes, and they’re strong ones. First, the dollar continues to take a beating in foreign currency markets. When the value of the dollar declines, it takes more dollars to buy goods and services, thus reducing buying power for domestic consumers, but raising buying power for economies, like the U.K. or Japan, whose currencies (the pound and the yen, respectively) are doing better than the U.S. dollar.

A sagging dollar also contributes to higher oil prices, just at the worst time for U.S. consumers (oil prices are linked directly to dollar fluctuations — the lower the value of the buck, the high the price for a barrel of oil). Not only does the price of a gallon of gas go up (the national average is $2.57, according to the Energy Information Administration, and $2.99 in California), home heating prices go up just as the U.S. enters the colder, winter months.

That’s why the economic sentiment says that mortgage rates are poised to rise despite the breather that rates took this week. According to the BankingMyWay Weekly Mortgage Rate Tracker. Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages dipped ever so slightly to 5.18% from 5.2%. Fifteen-year fixed-rate mortgages acted similarly falling to 4.61% from 4.64% for the week.

Adjustable-rate mortgages took a “three bears” approach last week, with one-year ARMs holding steady at 4.81%; three-year ARMs saw rates jumping to 4.98% from 4.75%, while five-year ARMs fell to 4.34% from 4.59%.

Another big issue in the mortgage market this week is the imminent expiration of the first-time homebuyer’s $8,000 tax credit. It waves goodbye Dec. 1 unless Congress extends the deadline, which looks like a pretty good bet. The tax credit has definitely been the driver for the surge in existing home sales during the past six months. Five of those months, including September, saw an uptick in home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

No doubt the $8,000 tax credit has a lot to do with the revitalized housing market (along with lower mortgage rates, which have hovered around 5% for the same period of time). But if Congress declines to act, look for another plunge in home purchase figures going into the notoriously soft winter months.

But why wait? If you don’t want to take your chances for a 2010 home purchase, get going right now. To find the best deals on mortgage rates, click on to BankingMyWay’s Mortgage Rate Search.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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