Mortgage rates backed off a bit this week, a move that gives homeowners some time to refinance.

The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.16% from 3.18% last week, according to Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. Rates hit a record high of 2.93 percent last month. The 15-year fixed rate also fell to 2.49% from 2.52% last week.

The discount rate includes origin points and other charges in its figure. The 30-year fixed rate loans in this week’s survey included an average total of 0.29 points of discount and origination.

Homeowners considering refinancing should pull the trigger now, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.

“If you’ve procrastinated on refinancing, don’t wait any longer,” says McBride. “Every time mortgage rates go up, you lose some of your potential savings. “

Mortgage rates fell after the coronavirus recession hit in the spring of 2020, a trend that helped boost the surprisingly strong housing market. While the upward trend in mortgage rates reflects signals of an economic recovery, the recovery so far has been uneven and incomplete.

Meanwhile, house prices have risen sharply during the pandemic, and lower mortgage rates have pushed rates higher. For home buyers, and especially first-time buyers, rising prices pose an affordability challenge.

In a sign, rates will continue to rise, the 10-year Treasury yield, a key indicator of mortgage rates, hit its highest level in a year. With Democrats taking control of the White House and Congress, logic goes, a generous stimulus bill will follow.

“We are no longer in a recession,” says Logan Mohtashami, housing analyst at HousingWire.

Almost half of mortgage experts interviewed by Bankrate expect rates to rise in the coming week. Some say massive stimulus could create inflationary pressures that force rates to rise.

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