Mortgage Rates Snap Their Streak Higher as Fed Chair Auditions Heat Up

Rates for home loans headed lower in the October 19 week, snapping a five-week streak of increases, mortgage provider Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.88% during the week, down 3 basis points. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.19%, down from 3.21%. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.17%, up 1 basis point.

Questions about who will replace Janet Yellen at the helm of the Federal Reserve, if the chairwoman herself is not picked for a new term, have buffeted the bond market recently. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury slid 10 basis points during the week.

Mortgage rates track Treasurys, but generally make less dramatic moves.

Late last year, housing experts thought the “Trump bump” would be the boost mortgage rates needed to finally move off post-crisis lows. Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch in December said they thought rates would average about 4.5% throughout 2017.

Instead, they’ve averaged 4% — and rates in the second half of the year are, on average, 20 basis points lower than in the first half.

Ellie Mae, a company that processes about a quarter of all mortgages, said Wednesday that refinances accounted for 38% of all mortgage originations in September, the most since February.