Though mortgage rates are expected to rise this year, the increases will be gradual and are expected to keep rates near five percent, which is still historically low. According to Holden Lewis of Bankrate, economists had predicted a rise in rates by the third quarter of 2010, but at the end of the year rates were still hovering in the four percent range. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects total mortgage applications to fall this year, though they also expect purchase applications to increase and become a greater share of the mortgage market. Overall, financial experts and market observers suggest homeowners and prospective buyers apply for a mortgage based on their individual needs rather than trying to time the market. More here.