If three times is a trend, mortgage rates are officially trending higher, at least for now. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.62%, up from 3.59% the week prior, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. It's the third consecutive week rates have increased.
"The latest economic indicators point toward low inflation but gradually stronger economic activity which placed further upward pressure on long-term Treasury yields and, in turn, fixed mortgage rates," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.
The 15-year fixed rate also ticked higher, to 2.88%, up from 2.84% the week prior. For perspective, one year ago, the 30-year and 15-year rates stood at 4.15% and 3.36%, respectively.
Data earlier in the morning showed building permits jumped nearly 7% to 812,000 in July, topping expectations, but housing starts decreased to 746,000 in July from a downwardly revised 754,000 in June.
Meanwhile, the Nation Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index increased for the fourth month straight in August to 37, its highest level since February of 2007, according to a report issued Wednesday.
"While there is still much room for improvement, we have come a long way from the depths of the recession and the outlook appears to be brightening," said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the NAHB, in the release.
While the increase is more evidence of a recovery, it doesn't feel like it for everyone. NAHB Economist David Crowe noted that "builders continue to express frustration regarding the inventory of distressed properties, inaccurate appraisal values, and the difficulty of accessing credit for both building and buying homes."
For their part, fewer people sought refinancing and new mortgages last week as rates ticked higher. The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that mortgage applications decreased 4.5% last week from the week prior, with the Refinance Index (refinancing accounted for 81% of mortgage applications) falling 5% from the previous week.
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