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Inflation Pressures Mounting; Mortgage Rates Rising

Consumer Price Index (March 2009 - February 2011)Inflation pressures are mounting in the United States. And, Friday, the Consumer Price Index should prove it.

More commonly called “The Cost of Living Index”, CPI measures cost changes in the typical items bought by American households. Among others, CPI measures goods and service in apparel and recreation; medical care and education; and housing and transportation.

The March CPI data is expected to show an increase in the cost of living for the 17th straight month — a reading that would take CPI to an all-time high.

If you’ve filled your gas tank, sent a child to school, or shopped for groceries, you’re likely not surprised. Household budgets have been squeezed from all angles lately. The dollar’s purchasing power is waning.

This is inflation, defined. And a weaker U.S. dollar is bad for mortgage rates. 

The connection between the U.S. dollar and mortgage rates is direct. When inflation pressures rise, mortgage rates in Seattle tend to rise, too, because mortgage rates are based on the price of mortgage-backed bonds — a security bought, sold and paid in U.S. dollars

Inflation, in other words, renders mortgage bonds less valuable to investors, all things equal, so investors sell them as inflation pressures grow. More sellers leads to lower prices which, in turn, causes mortgage rates to rise.

It’s why March’s Cost of Living data is so important to rate shoppers and home buyers in Camas. Higher levels of CPI can harm home affordability, and stretch your household budget uncomfortably.

As Memorial Day approaches, gas prices are projected to spike, offering little relief from the inflationary pressures in the economy. It’s one reason why mortgage rates should trend higher over the next few months.

If you’re wondering whether to lock or float your mortgage rate, consider locking in. At least today’s rates are a sure thing. Tomorrow’s rates could be much higher.


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