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30-year fixed mortgage rates move up after reaching record lows

The 30-year loan was offered at 4.01% on average this week for solid borrowers who paid 0.7% of the loan balance upfront in lender fees and points, according to a Freddie Mac survey. The rate had dropped below 4% late last week.

September 30, 2011|By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times

Blink and you may have missed it — the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage has crept higher since plunging to a record low of less than 4% late last week.

Freddie Mac, which polls lenders across the nation each Monday through Wednesday about rates, said Thursday that the 30-year loan was being offered at 4.01% on average for solid borrowers who paid 0.7% of the loan balance upfront in lender fees and points.

In the Western U.S., including California, the typical rate averaged 3.95% early this week. Both figures are record lows for the survey, which started in 1971.

Well-qualified borrowers who shop around often find slightly better rates, and it's also an option to reduce the interest rate on a loan by paying more upfront points.

Freddie pegged the average rate at 4.09% in its releases for Sept. 15 and Sept. 22. Those surveys missed the record low set when the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for fixed mortgage rates, dropped to 1.72% on Sept. 22.

That same day, many gauges showed the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate loan well under 4%. The direction of mortgage rates and Treasury yields has been up ever since, with the 10-year Treasury yield back above 2% Tuesday and Wednesday, and edging higher still early Thursday.

John West, a senior loan officer at Catalyst Lending in Tustin, said he spent last weekend on the phone explaining to clients that rates already had risen again. One factor was "pipeline management," he said: lenders quoting higher rates because they already were overwhelmed with applications to refinance.

"We're all issuing a collective sigh of relief that rates have, at least temporarily, gone back up this week," West said. "We all need time to regroup and get caught up."

There was no respite, however, in jumbo mortgages, the home loans banks keep on their books because they are too large to be sold to, or guaranteed by, government-controlled mortgage firms such as Freddie Mac.

While jumbo rates were, as always, higher than those for smaller mortgages, they continued to fall this week, West said.

"I have a stack of jumbo loan applications from borrowers who had been sitting on the sidelines and balking at refinancing until now," he said.

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