Mortgage rates fall as global tensions rise

Mortgage rates fell this week

The mortgage rate you can get is tied to global events.

And this week's world events sent investors scrambling to buy bonds as a safe haven, which sent mortgage rates a little lower.

Some good news as home buying season arrives and more of us are shopping for mortgages.

Applications for purchase loans jumped 3 percent from last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, and are 3 percent higher than the same week a year ago. That could be a sign that homebuyers are jumping into the market sooner this year. There's a reason for that: Buyers in many markets are having trouble finding suitable homes for sale.

What does that mean for you? Try to get an early jump on the competition! If you're going to buy this spring, start shopping now.

Plus: There's always the possibility that mortgage rates will take a U-turn and rise again.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell this week to 4.22 percent from 4.24 percent, according to Bankrate's weekly survey of large lenders. A year ago, it was 3.72 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 4.44 percent. The last time the 30-year fixed was lower was in mid-January.

The mortgages in this week's survey had an average total of 0.28 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.91 percent. This week's rate is 0.31 percentage points higher than the 52-week average.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.43 percent from 3.48 percent.

The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.46 percent from 3.45 percent.

The 30-year fixed-rate jumbo mortgage fell to 4.15 percent from 4.19 percent.

What's the Fed's plan?

A week ago, the Federal Reserve issued the minutes of its most recent rate policy meeting, and the central bank made it clear that it plans to raise short-term interest rates at least twice more this year, on top of quarter-point increases in December and again in March. Mortgage rates appeared poised to rise, but they didn't.

"I guess people don't think the Fed is going to raise as quickly as we think," said Michael Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a mortgage lender in New York City. "And also, the bond market maybe senses the economy isn't going to get going as fast as possible worldwide."

Next week features speeches by three Fed officials, only one of whom is on the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee this year. That official, Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, is considered to be relatively reluctant to raise interest rates. If he speaks favorably of raising rates a couple of more times this year, it could be a further sign that the Fed has firmly charted its course for 2017.

If that is so, it's best to get a mortgage sooner rather than later.