For the past six weeks, mortgage rates have been placid – trending in a very tight band. Next week, they could break out of the upper band. We say that because the 10-year U.S. Treasury note – a benchmark lending rate – has broken out to the upside. As the 10-year note goes, so, too, usually goes the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.

Over the past few months, we've frequently opined that the days of the 3.5% 30-year loan that prevailed earlier this year were gone and were unlikely to return anytime soon. At the same time, we've opined that rates are primed to rise. We continue to hold these opinions to this day.

That said, we don't see mortgage rates moving materially higher in the short term. Economic growth remains anemic, and job growth continues to lag behind the Federal Reserve's target rate. Therefore, the institutional imperative supports keeping rates low.

Our assessment of the mortgage-rate environment points to mildly rising rates (perhaps five to 10 basis points). Longer-term – over the next year – the probabilities overwhelming point to rates moving higher, which is why we continue to say that the risk in this market resides in procrastination.

Courtesy of Jessica Regan.

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