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Mortgage Rates Jump

Big jump in mortgage rates not enough to kill home sale binge, real estate experts say

Mortgage interest rates rose significantly over the last week — the biggest one week jump in over 26 years — but real estate experts say it won’t  be enough to drive away homebuyers.

Freddie Mac reported the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose from 3.93 percent last week to 4.46 percent this week; the highest mortgages have been since July of 2011.

It was the largest one week increase since the week ended April of 1987.

“I don’t foresee that it will slow down the home sales surge in Houston,” said Danny Frank, chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors. “Rates are still low.”

 “I don’t foresee that it will slow down the home sales surge in Houston,” said Danny Frank, chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors. “Rates are still low.” 

A 30-year mortgage can still be obtained for about 4.17 percent in Houston, Frank said Friday. That’s much higher than what it was a year ago, but still low by historical standards. Home buyers have been able to find mortgages below 4 percent during 2013.

Rates would have to get to 7 or 8 percent to really kill the housing market, said Frank, an agent to Prudential Anderson Properties.

Houston is coming off its best month ever for home sales: almost 8,000 homes were sold in May. Low mortgage rates have been a driving factor in sending the housing market into a phenomenal two-year upward drive.

But job growth in Houston has been fueling the market also. Houston has been adding 100,000 new jobs annually and thousands of people have been moving to the city. The inventory of available homes for sale is exceptionally low.

Rising mortgage rates may prompt some people to hurry to buy before rates go even higher, said Houstonian Shad Bogany, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. These “fence-sitters” could fuel an even hotter buyer frenzy.

The National Association of Realtors reports that pending sales activity is strong across the nation as the market moves through the summer buying season. Buyers want to take advantage of current affordability conditions before mortgage interest rates move higher, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR.”

What has slowed is the refinancing of mortgages, Frank said. The rise in rates makes a big difference in a monthly payment. For example, the monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage at a 3.35 percent is $881 a month.

But at 4.46 percent, the monthly payment on that $200,000 loan is $1,008 a month.

The jump in rates was caused by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke’s recent revelation that the Fed may reduce the amount of bonds that it purchases. The bond market responded to Bernanke’s statement and it impacted mortgage rates immediately.

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