Mortgage markets worsened slightly last week through a bouncy, holiday-shortened trading week. Markets were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and re-opened only briefly Friday.
As in past weeks, though, economic, political, and financial news from the Eurozone dictated the direction of U.S. mortgage-backed bonds.
As Greece -- and now Italy -- have faltered, investors have sought to preserve their respective principal, moving money from unsafe assets to safe ones, a class which includes Fannie Mae- and Freddie Mac-backed mortgage bonds.
This investment pattern is known as "safe haven" buying and it's why mortgage rates tend to improve when large economies grow unstable. Government mortgage bonds are considered among the safest securities available.
The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is available for 3.98%, according to Freddie Mac, with borrowers expected to pay an accompanying 0.7 discount points. 1 "discount point" is a loan fee equal to 1 percent of your loan size.
"No-point loans" carry higher rates than the Freddie Mac-published figures, but come with lower closing costs.
This week, there are several reasons to expect mortgage rates to rise throughout Georgia.
First, markets are speculating that the IMF will lend Italy 600 billion euro to help avert financial crisis. This move would reverse the safe haven buying that's characterized the last few weeks of trading, thereby leading mortgage rates higher.
A second reason is that they are early reports that Black Friday shoppers out-spent analyst estimates. Consumer spending is the largest part of the U.S. economy so, if spending is up, the economy should be up, too.
As before, this would reverse some of the safe haven buying that's helped keep mortgage rates low.
Lastly, this week is stuffed with new data including Friday's always-important Non-Farm Payrolls report. Wall Street expects 116,000 net new jobs created in November. If the actual figure is much higher, mortgage rates will rise.
Expect mortgage rates to be volatile this week. Your quoted mortgage rates could vary by as much as a quarter-percent from day-to-day. If you're nervous about losing a low rate that's been offered to you, consider locking in.