For some homebuyers, surge in mortgage rates creates new urgency

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Just when it seemed the housing market might be creeping back to some semblance of normal, Americans have a new reason to buy now. Mortgage rates are rising sharply, and that trend has spurred home shoppers to try to lock in loans now.

“There’s definitely an urgency that’s pushing buyers into the market,” says Andy Sachs, a Keller Williams broker in Newtown, Connecticut. “Some of these buyers have been looking for a year. We’re seeing bidding wars again.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday that applications for purchase mortgages rose nearly 8 percent in the past week. (By contrast, applications for refinances fell.) The surge in mortgage activity ahead of the spring homebuying season reflects a sense among home shoppers that historically low mortgage rates are fading.

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