Interest Rates On The Rise

Fuel prices skyrocketing out of control. Heaven forbid you own a diesel which is now pushing $5 per gallon. The floods in the Midwest are impacting our food supply which in turn is costing us more money. The salmonella scare of fresh tomatoes in threatening a shortage. And now the mortgage interest rates are on the climb as well, joining the long list of things that are becoming more expensive.

According to Bankrate.com which is a national survey of large lenders, the 30 year fixed rate rose 26 basis points. A basis point is 100th of 1 percentage point. One year ago the mortgage index was 6.84%, 4 weeks ago it was 6.19% and today it is 6.52%. The 15 year fixed jumped a dramatic 28 basis points to 6.12% and the 30 year jumbo rose 13 basis points to 7.6%. Even the adjustable rate mortgages have taken a hit, the 5/1adjustable rate went up 27 basis points to 6.07%. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

This is the biggest increase for the 30 year fixed mortgage rate since Feb 20th when it rose 41 basis points. According to a weekly survey by Bankrate, the 30 year fixes has jumped up more then 25 basis points 7 times in the last 10 years with 3 of those 7 instances being in 2008. Not a good trend for ’08.

Need some consolation right now? The rates were substantially higher a year ago. However, last years high rates were due to the hot stock market which drew investors away from bonds. This caused the bond yields to rise followed closely by the mortgages rates. This year is a whole different story. The rates are rising in response to inflation fears and concerns about credit quality.

Even though the rates are on the rise and prices are steadily going up on many consumer goods, it looks like some areas in the country have less expensive housing then others. According to the Beige Book home prices are down in New England, Florida and California. The NAR (National Association of Realtors) reported this week that its index of pending home sales were up in April. This signals a possible increase in home sales in the last half of the year. Keep your fingers crossed.

“Sharp price reductions are leading to a quicker discovery of price equilibrium points,” the Realtors’ chief economist, Lawrence Yun, says.

According to some analysts this translates into the foreclosure issue out West cutting into home prices in parts of the country.

Right before the increase in mortgage rates this week, the president of the National Association of Realtors, Richard Gaylord, said: “Overall affordability conditions are the best we’ve seen since the middle of the housing boom in 2004, but with far more choices and much less pressure than buyers experienced four years ago to make an investment in their future.”

The question is “has some of the affordability been lost now that the mortgage rates have climbed a quarter of a percentage point?” I would say yes.

By Shelli Crysler