A Frenzied Race to Refinance

Mortgage rates are inching up from their record lows -- and that's setting off a rush of last-minute consumer and business borrowing

Thomas Williams fears he just got left behind. The Washington (D.C.) real estate agent had refinanced his $600,000 mortgage a year ago at an annual interest rate of 5.5% for the first five years, and he had hoped to do even better this summer. His dream: locking into a comfy fixed rate for 30 years. But since mid-June, rates on a conventional 30-year mortgage have jumped by almost a percentage point from a 45-year low of 5.21%. Today, the best he can get is 6.25%. "I'll float for a while and see what happens," he says.

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