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Mortgage Rates Rise

March 22, 2012, 9:50 PM by Angela Kennecke

Mortgage Rates Rise

Mortgage rates sat at 30 year lows, under four percent, for months.  But in the last week, they've bumped up to more than four percent on a 30-year-fixed home loan.

What does it mean for the housing market?  One mortgage banker says the hike may actually spur sales.

While it seemed like they may stay low forever, mortgage rates jumped up above four percent thanks to a recent rise in Treasury yields. 

"It's a good thing what caused it quite honestly.  The stock market moved. That's great! The stock market made a significant jump last week and that affected bonds and anytime that happens, you're going to see mortgage rates creep up a little bit," Mortgage Banker Brian Spaans said.

But that also caused mortgage applications to drop nationally in one week by a little more than seven percent.

"That's very normal and back to rates we saw over the last six months; really not a lot of movement so people get used to that rate and it's kind of old news," Spaans said.

But the recent jump from about 3.8 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage to 4.1 percent does get people's attention.  And Spaans says it may be just enough to push people to act now.

"Those people that were looking at refinancing, this is an attention getter that they should sit up and pay attention. If they were on the fence and were going to wait and do something later, now's maybe the time to look into that," Spaans said.

A jump in rates can also help spur new home sales because people want to lock in the rate before it goes even higher.  But Spaans says it really has to be a bigger rate hike before it starts affecting how much home people can buy.

"It does take quite a swing. I would say one-plus percent before you're going to notice anything significant on your monthly payment," Spaans said.

Most analysts don't think mortgage rates will go much higher.  They point to a national drop in home resales and more unemployment claims that will keep bond and mortgage rates low.  Just today there were economic indicators that rates could go back down again.

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