Attack Of Sticker Shock

Mortgage rates jump sharply

Is the Great American Housing Party over? In 1981 U.S. mortgage rates began declining from a peak of 16% to less than 9% earlier this year. During that span the previously stagnant building industry boomed, and millions of U.S. consumers rushed to buy new homes or cash in their old mortgages for cheaper ones. Last week, though, lenders, home buyers and builders were shaken by the sharpest mortgage-rate run-up in years. The interest-rate hike may prove to be temporary, but it caused a minor panic. "The rise was so sudden that most consumers are still dazed," says Eric Fessler, vice president...

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