Mortgage rates rise for the first time in four weeks

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Mortgage rates ticked up slightly, marking the first increase in four weeks, but they remain at levels which encourage borrowers to refinance, according to Freddie Mac.

"With mortgage rates hovering near a five-decade low, refinance application activity is once again surging, rising to the highest level in seven years," Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist, said in a press release. "This surge coupled with strong purchase activity means that total mortgage demand remains robust, reflective of a solid economic backdrop and a very low mortgage rate environment."

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.47% for the week ending Feb. 13, slightly up from last week when it averaged 3.45%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.37%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.97%, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.81%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.28% with an average 0.3 point, slightly down from last week when it averaged 3.32%. A year ago at this time, the five-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.88%.

Zillow's 30-year mortgage rate tracker is more dynamic than Fannie Mae's. On Feb. 5, the daily average rate was at 3.93% before falling to 3.76% the following day. A rebound brought it up to 3.87% on Feb. 11 before going to 3.97% the following day.

"Mortgage rates fell this week, as fallout from the coronavirus outbreak continued to keep investors on their heels," Zillow economist Matthew Speakman said in a Feb. 12 post accompanying the tracker. "This week showed that investors don't feel the labor market poses a risk to the economy for now, but the coronavirus does. Encouraging economic data releases from the past seven days were no match for the persistent uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, which continues to have a far greater influence on market behavior. Mortgage rates fell on Friday, despite the release of stronger-than-expected January jobs figures."

That showed the coronavirus is, and will remain for the time being, the primary driver of mortgage rate movement.

"Positive news on the labor market has had a lesser impact of late — largely due to its enduring strength — but a downward movement in rates following such a strong report was an eye-opener nevertheless," Speakman said. "Until uncertainty about the outbreak begins to recede, it's likely that these unconventional reactions to data releases will persist. Much remains up in the air, but what's certain is that the coronavirus will be the main driver of mortgage rate movements for the near future."

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Mortgage rates forecast Mortgage rates Refinance Purchase Mortgage applications Economy Freddie Mac Zillow