For months, lenders have been talking about the blood-bath that could follow a rise in interest rates sufficient to end the refinancing boom.

But the spike that carried mortgage rates upward by about 20 basis points last week appeared to leave most lenders unruffled and the public still on the fence.

Interest rates climbed to 7.16% on an average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, according to HSH Associates, Butler, N.J. A week ago, the average was 6.97%.

Volume |Normal'

Borrowers seemed to shut out the noise and did not rush to make loan applications. Flurries of applications have generally been experienced in the past when rates spike upward.

First Union Mortgage Corp., Charlotte, N.C., had "normal" loan application volume last week, according to Karl J. Mendenhall, senior vice president in charge of marketing. "It has surprised us."

Albert C. Kocourek, president and chief executive of First Advantage Mortgage Corp., Columbia, Md., said the rate rise was dramatic but not catastrophic. He said he has seen even broader changes before.

"We expected some blip up in rates, but there isn't anything to [make us] think this is going to be traumatic."

Keith Gumbinger, an analyst with HSH Associates, said it was too early to say what the effects of the rate spike would be.

"Every time this happens, you have a flurry of people rushing to refinance," Mr. Gumbinger said. "But that's from those who were sitting on the fence, maybe waiting for another drop, and it just takes away from future business."

Mr. Gumbinger said HSH had received many phone calls in the last few days from consumers wanting to know whether they should rush to refinance.

But if consumers are wondering about rate trends, they don't appear to be doing much, according to lenders.

Fence Sitters Still Sitting

Margaret Conrad, an assistant vice president for marketing at Fort Worth, Tex.-based American National Mortgage, has been getting similar calls. So far her customers are not jumping off the fence to refinance.

"They feel that interest rates are coming down," she said.

She said loan applications have tailed off recently, but she was unconcerned. "We have more business now than we can shake a stick at," she said.

At Western Sunrise Mortgage Co., Rancho Cordova, Calif., president Cynthia Sample said that by the fourth consecutive day of rate rises, people with loans in progress usually decide to lock in. "We haven't seen that." Ms. Sample said.

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