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Rising mortgage rates could spur undecided buyers

Mortgage rates took a big leap this week, causing many to wonder if the days of extremely low mortgage rates are coming to an end.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.29% this week, up from last week’s 4.91% average, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of conforming mortgage rates.

Rising government debts and hopes of economic recovery are pushing up long-term interest rates on government debt, said Brett Arends, in a recent piece for The Wall Street Journal. And that pushes up rates on other long-term loans, he added. The rise in rates could continue, and that will affect those searching for a new home.

The rate jump could very well be a deterrent for those buyers on the fence. Or it will motivate people to make a move, instead of waiting for financing costs to grow more expensive.

“If they’re reading the same reports I’m reading, they’re seeing that rates will go up more than they will go down,” said Eric Mangan, spokesman for ForSaleByOwner.com. “That may motivate buyers to get off the sidelines,” he said.

Read more about mortgages in this week’s real estate pages, as well as an audio report from an economist who believes that home sales probably bottomed earlier this year.

There’s no way to know for certain the direction mortgages are headed in the short term. But those in the market for a mortgage should think about acting soon, because when rates stay near record lows for months, eventually the only direction they can go is up.