Fixed mortgage rates reached new highs for the year after the Federal Reserve gave markets a sneak peek at the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes, revealing that a timeline for bond-buying tapering is in the works, according to Freddie Mac.
Nearly all FOMC members confirmed they are ‘broadly comfortable’ with the timeline Fed chairman Ben Bernanke put into action for tapering its asset purchases later this year if the economy continues to improve, potentially turning the housing upswing on its side.
Market analysts sounded the alarm Wednesday that one of the biggest risks to housing is the reduction of the central bank’s monetary stimulus, which would put additional upward pressure on interest rates and mortgage rates.
The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage came in at 4.58%, up from 4.40% last week, and up from 3.66% last year.
In addition, the 15-year, FRM averaged 3.60%, up from 3.44% and an increase from 2.89% a year ago.
The 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage came in at 3.21%, a slight drop from 3.23% and a substantial increase from 2.80% during the year earlier period.
The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM also climbed to 2.67%, unchanged from last week, and not far from the 2.66% rate reported a year earlier.
"Fixed mortgage rates continued to follow bond yields higher leading up to the August 21st release of the Federal Reserve monetary policy committee’s minutes for July. In its July 30th and 31st meetings, the committee members were broadly comfortable with a plan to start reducing its bond purchases later this year, although a few emphasized the importance of being patient," said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft.
He added, "Meeting participants acknowledged mortgage rate increases might restrain housing market activity, but several members expressed confidence the housing recovery would be resilient in the face of higher rates. In fact, existing home sales increased in July to the strongest pace since November 2009 and homebuilder confidence in August rose to its highest reading since November 2005. Both increases occurred after mortgage rates had risen from their spring-time lows."
Bankrate also reported that mortgage rates hit new highs.
In its weekly national survey, Bankrate said the 30-year, FRM rose to 4.74%, while the 15-year, FRM increased to 3.75%. In addition, the 5/1 ARM increased to 3.69%.
Homebuilder stocks also took a beating this week after the FOMC minutes suggested the central bank will begin tapering its quantitative easing program sooner rather than later.