Mortgage Rates Appear to Have Settled (At Least for Now)

As a general rule, there are few things less exciting in this world than the week-to-week change in mortgage rates. Yet, for most of May and June, that's where all the action was.

The good news is that, according to Freddie Mac's most recent estimate, things have begun to settle back down, adding certainty to a critical sector of the economy.

As you can see above, Freddie Mac reported today that the benchmark rate on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage stayed put this week at 4.4%. That was the same rate as last week and is 1.1 percentage points higher than the all-time low set on November 21, 2012.

While many prospective and current homeowners undoubtedly regret missing the opportunity to either buy a home or refinance their existing mortgage when rates were so low, the fact remains that mortgage rates are still dirt cheap, at roughly half the historical average.

On top of this, while it's still too early to draw a firm conclusion, there's reason to believe that higher rates may even provide a boost to the housing market itself.

Shares of the nation's largest homebuilders are rallying today on the news as well as a report that confidence in the industry is at the highest level in nearly eight years. D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI  ) is up by 3.2%, PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM  ) by 1.7%, and Toll Brothers (NYSE: TOL  ) by 1.4%.

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