The retail price of gasoline is rising nationwide, now up 30 percent since the New Year.
It's a similar run-up to what we've seen for retail gas prices in each of the last 5 Spring Seasons.
For people trying to time the mortgage market's bottom, clues about the future of mortgage rates may be at the local gas station.
Rising gas prices are indicative of the rising cost of energy and, indeed, crude oil is closing in on its 2009 highpoint. As these energy costs grow, so do inflationary pressures on the U.S. economy.
Inflation, of course, is awful for mortgage rates. When it's present, mortgage markets deteriorate and rates tend to rise — often sharply and with little advance warning.
So, for today's homebuyers-in-process and would-be refinancers, prices at the pump may foreshadow bad news for the future of housing affordability. Even a modest, quarter-percent increase would have a palpable effect on payments, adding $372 in annual costs to a $200,000 home loan.
Since last month, gas prices are already up by more than 10 cents per gallon.