Kathleen M. Howley & Prashant Gopal
June 7, 2013

Rob Braunstein said his search for a three-bedroom home on a quiet street in Needham, Massachusetts, is taking on more urgency as he watches mortgage rates tick higher. Every increase, he worries, shrinks his budget by boosting monthly payments, he said.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage has risen for each of the past five weeks and is at the highest level in more than a year, according to government mortgage-buyer Freddie Mac. While that’s already put a dent in the refinancing boom that has powered bank earnings this year, for buyers like Braunstein, the message is clear: buy quickly.

“Refinancing depends only on mortgage rates and therefore is very sensitive to changes in rates,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist at San Francisco-based Trulia Inc., an online property listing service. When it comes to buying, “some people might want to hurry up and make a purchase, but with inventory so tight they might not be able to move that fast.”

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