Words like devastation, crash, utter annihilation and similar were being thrown around in the press on Wednesday, May 22, after the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee had finished its work. Based on the literate embellishments, one would think that Ben Bernanke's comments had triggered some kind of financial apocalypse. In fact, the reaction was that the bell-weather 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged moved up and solidified a lock on the 3.75 percent mark, finally letting go of the mid-3 percent range and a few lenders poking at 3.875 percent as well. This upward movement was entirely expected as well.
With the economy improving and even the naysayers admitting in March that the recovery was officially occurring, as well as the housing markets across the nation heating up, the upward movement of interest rates was inevitable. The surprise for many so far has instead been that the climb has taken as long as it has. Many thought in January that the die was set, but February proved those hopes to be premature.
While the Federal Reserve minutes released Wednesday did include the all-powerful comment that quantitative easing and the purchasing of mortgage-backed securities was to finally start slowing down, there was no date-certain deadline mentioned. So it's anyone's guess when the Feds will actually taper down their activities. That said, it's expected to happen in 2013 since Bernanke's comments did include the phrase, "in the next few meetings." Just the comments that did occur, as a result, were enough to signal demand drops for the related securities and to boost the rate averages.
The 30-year fixed rate average is solidly in the 3.75 percent range now, making the FHA/Veteran Administration's loan rate of 3.25 percent very juicy and attractive for those who can apply. The 15-year fixed mortgage average also finally broke its ceiling, and the range has now moved up to 2.875 percent to 3 percent for the first time. Finally, the 5-year adjustable rate mortgage is all over the map from a low of 2.625 percent with points to as much as 3.25 percent.