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TheStreet Open House

Good Jobs Number Now Means Higher Mortgage Rates Soon

NEW YORK (BankingMyWay) -- Political partisans are at it again, squabbling over last week's upbeat U.S. unemployment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, which pegged the jobless number at 7.8% for September and cited 114,000 new private sector jobs for the weak, but growing, U.S. economy.

Republicans say the numbers are cooked to help the president's re-election chances, and Democrats say the figures are legit and have the backing of most economists and think tanks.

While the political class keep swinging at each other, there's a different takeaway on the jobs issue for U.S. homebuyers and for homeowners looking to sell: The brighter jobs number may make buying a home more expensive, at least for the short term.

That prediction comes from Residential Finance, a Columbus, Ohio-based home loan mortgage provider. In its latest Mortgage Market Review, the firm says an improving jobs picture "will likely cause a slight, short-term uptick in mortgage interest rates".

Right now, mortgage rates remain at historic lows, with the average 30-year mortgage rate at 3.43%, according to the BankingMyWay Weekly Mortgage Rate Tracker.

Furthermore, five-year adjustable-rate mortgages and 15-year fixed mortgage rates have fallen below the 3% mark, to 2.80%, and 2.91%, respectively, according to the tracker.

Why are rising mortgage rates tied to a stronger jobs number?

By and large, any uptick in jobs helps the economy, but also comes up with a price tag attached: higher interest rates, which banks think they can afford to charge borrowers in an improving market climate. While it's too early to say mortgage rates will keep rising, RFC does say that rates will rise "in the short term," and that could affect buyers looking for a new home this month.

"Earlier this week, we correctly recommended to our customers that they lock at the current, low rates prior to the jobs announcement," says Barry Habib, chief mortgage analyst at Residential Finance. "For those who haven't yet locked in a rate - there is still time. We actually expect long-term rates will likely move lower in the future due to the continued asset purchase and the commitment to keep the Fed Funds rate low."

Habib says he needs to see signs of sustainable upward movement on the jobs front before confirming higher mortgage rates are here to stay. And despite the positive jobs number from Friday, those signs are few and far between. That said, we should know more 90 days from now.

"This significant decrease in unemployment is not likely to have an impact on the overall economy until and unless the decrease were to become a trend with continued improvements over another two-to-three months," Habib adds.

For home-hunting fence-sitters, Habib advises getting going now to ensure you'll gain from those historically-low mortgage rates. Because if the jobs number keeps improving, mortgage rates could start soaring over the next six months or so.

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