Mortgage rates have bounced off a 26-year historic low in the week of Feb. 22, 2012. However, the forecast for 2012 and beyond for rates is still muted.
The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed to 4.16 percent, the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.38 percent and the 5-year ARM inched up to 3.12 percent, according to Bankrate's national mortgage survey conducted each Wednesday.
In the previous Bankrate survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was at 4.10 percent, the lowest in the survey's 26-year history.
Homeowners still wanting to take advantage of low mortgage rates may not need to be alarmed by this week's rise, however; these low rates are likely to say, at least for 2012.
In the very near-term, mortgage rates, which track yields on U.S. Treasuries, will depend on macro-economic factors. Bullish sentiments usually lead to higher yields while bearish sentiments usually lead to lower yields.
In the near future, key macro-economic factors include the success of efforts to bail out Greece and address the euro zone debt crisis and the strength of U.S. economic data.
Many forecasters believe these developments will largely fall within market expectations, which would lead to relatively small changes in mortgage rates.
The possibility of a big surprise is skewed to the downside - for example, if Greece defaults in a disruptive fashion - and would actually lead to lower mortgage rates.
The possibility of a big surprise to the upside - for example, if the U.S. jobs market makes a dramatic improvement - is less likely.
Over the coming months and beyond, the actions of the Federal Reserve, which sets short-term interest rates and influences long-term interest rates, will be crucial for mortgage rates.
The Federal Reserve has signaled that it will keep the federal funds rate unchanged until at least late 2014. It also raised the possibility of buying mortgage-backed securities in the open market.
Given the Fed's accommodative stance, it is hard to see mortgage rates rising significantly in 2012.
Housing is really the laggard in the economic recovery...so the (Federal Reserve) will continue to prop up the mortgage market to induce people to buy houses, said Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at IHS Global Insight, according to Bankrate.
However, Michael Moskowitz, president of Equity Now, a mortgage bank in New York City, cautions homeowners against relying on such assumptions.
I advise my clients to be prudent...If you are getting a good enough deal now, don't bet on the future, he told Bankrate.