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Mortgage Rates Friday: Rising Sharply in Strong Economy

February 2, 2018
Mortgage Rates, Mortgages
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The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage jumped 11 basis points, the rate for the 15-year fixed rose 10 basis points and the 5/1 ARM stepped upward by three basis points, according to a NerdWallet survey of daily mortgage rates published Friday by national lenders.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed has risen 15 basis points in one week. The rate is six basis points higher than one year ago. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percent.

One month ago, the average rate on the 30-year fixed was 4.09%. It has risen 40 basis points almost half a percentage point in that time. But that trend didn’t take mortgage lenders by surprise.

It was bound to happen

“The tide was going to turn at some point,” says Ryan Leahy, sales manager of inside sales for Mortgage Network, a lender based in Danvers, Massachusetts. “Rates were so low, for so long, that we’ve been spoiled.”

Brett Sinnott, vice president of capital markets for CMG Financial, a mortgage lender in San Ramon, California, says, “Most of us in the industry have been waiting for this. The fact that it happened in a two-week period is kind of why you’re seeing it pop up on everybody’s radar.”

He adds that “this is kind of where we should have been, what we should have seen, when the Fed raised rates back in December.”

Neither Sinnott nor Leahy has seen evidence that the higher rates are dissuading anyone from buying homes. Sinnott says rapid rate increases tend to push fence-sitters into action. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you see applications go up over this period, too, which would be ironic,” he says.

The economy has the wind at its back

Interest rates are rising as the economy continues to show its strength. The economy added 200,000 jobs in January, according to the Department of Labor. Average hourly earnings went up 2.9% in the 12 months ending in January. The Trump tax cuts will begin to be felt this month when federal tax withholding is adjusted. The tax cuts will put money in consumers’ pockets, which should further spur the economy.

Sinnott says he believes the tax cuts are the most important factor in pushing mortgage rates higher in the last few weeks. Other factors include a pause in scary headlines about North Korea and an impending showdown over the federal debt ceiling, he says.

Yet another upward push on rates may have come courtesy of the Federal Reserve, whose monetary policy committee met this week and left short-term interest rates unchanged. But the Fed’s policy statement said inflation “is expected to move up this year,” and markets took that as confirmation that the central bank will continue hiking short-term interest rates.

MORTGAGE RATES TODAY, FRIDAY, FEB. 2:

(Change from 02/01)
30-year fixed: 4.49% APR (+0.11)
15-year fixed: 4.14% APR (+0.10)
5/1 ARM: 4.47% APR (+0.03)


NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

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