Real Estate

Why mortgage rates matter this weekend

Will mortgages spike?

Like most retailers, real estate agents and homebuilders are on a big sales push this Columbus Day weekend. For the housing market, it is something of a last hurrah before potential buyers head back inside for the winter. That is why even the small interest rate move higher this week is top of mind this weekend.

Mortgage application volume surged a week ago, when a disappointing employment report sent mortgage rates down to their lowest level in months. The stock market, however, bounced back this week, which turned interest rates around yet again. Mortgage rates are now slightly higher than a week ago.

"At this point, every single day this week has seen rates either fail to improve or simply move higher. By contrast, last week saw rates fall on five out of five days," wrote Matthew Graham, chief operating officer of Mortgage News Daily.

A potential home buyer views a model home at the Shapell Industries Inc. Gale Ranch community in San Ramon, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The rate moves on the popular 30-year fixed are barely within a quarter percentage point. They mean barely a few dollars on the average monthly payment. It's what they say about the future that is much more important.

In an interview Friday on CNBC, New York Federal Reserve President William Dudley said he still expects a rate increase this year, adding, "We're going to get a lot of data between now and December, so it's not a commitment."

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Real estate agents say most of their clients do expect interest rates to rise. It's just a question of how urgent their expectations are.

"We are seeing an incredible increase in business. I'm exhausted!" said Laura Barnett, a real estate agent in the suburban Dallas area. "The interest rates are the most likely reason. I have had one client mention that he wanted tangible assets if there was going to be a global recession, and he was purchasing lease homes over the stocks that he was considering."

Several reports are showing improved consumer confidence in the housing market, with concern still remaining about mortgage availability and rising prices. That could bode well for this weekend. With rates just slightly higher than last week, that may be just the kick in the pants some buyers need to sign on the dotted line.