Mortgage rates up, but housing still affordable

As the economy strengthens and the Federal Reserve tapers its buy-back of mortgage-backed securities, there will be upward pressure on mortgage rates, but not enough to harm housing affordability, according to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Nationally, Nothaft expects that home sales and prices will each rise about 5 percent in 2014, and that housing starts will post a 20 percent gain.

“As we move into the 2014 home buying season, it will be a market dominated by home buying originations rather than refinance originations,” says Nothaft. “This will be the first time since 2000 that purchase originations will dominate the market.”

He says the reason for the change is because so many households looking to refinance have already done so, and as mortgage rates gradually rise, fewer homeowners will look to refinance. Further, purchase originations are expected to increase as the overall housing market strengthens.