It was yet another tough week for the mortgage market with rates rising to their highest levels since 2009, but how high have they actually risen? There’s a correct answer and then there’s the answer that can be gleaned from widespread media coverage of Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage rate survey. As is often the case during times of heightened volatility, survey-based rates tend to lag behind reality. On a positive note, Freddie correctly identified a large uptick in rates as well as their status as the “highest since 2009.” Unfortunately, the survey continues lagging behind the average lender based on an objective review of actual rate sheets. Whereas Freddie moved up to 5.27%, most lenders are at least a quarter of a point higher. This doesn’t mean Freddie is “wrong” when it comes to rates. The survey is just limited in terms of what it can tell us regarding same-day availability of rates in a rapidly changing environment. Over longer time horizons and for the purpose of getting a general sense of how rates have been moving, the survey serves its purpose. The other potential complication is that Freddie’s survey has another cost component that isn’t captured in headlines. In addition to the rate itself, “points” are also included. 1 point = 1% of the loan balance, paid upfront in order to obtain a lower interest rate. The rate reducing power of a point can vary over time, but at the moment, 1 point is generally worth at least 0.25% in rate. For instance, a rate of 5.25% with 1 point is roughly the same as a rate of 5.5% with no points.
Rates Reverse Course to Hit Another Long-Term High Rates Start High, But Improved Significantly By The Afternoon