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Posted at 10:00 AM ET, 01/24/2013

Mortgage rates inch higher but remain near historic lows

Although mortgage rates inched higher this week, they remain near historic lows.

According to the latest data released by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average climbed to 3.42 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was up from 3.38 percent a week ago but down from 3.98 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has stayed below 3.5 percent since Sept. 20. The all-time low was 3.31 percent, set Nov. 21.

The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 2.71 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was up from 2.66 percent a week ago but down from 3.24 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has not been above 3 percent since May 24.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages held steady. The five-year ARM has not moved in three weeks, remaining at 2.67 percent with an average 0.5 point. A year ago, it was 2.85 percent.

The one-year ARM also stayed the same as last week, at 2.57 percent. A year ago, it was 2.74 percent.

“Fixed mortgage rates were up slightly over the holiday week but remain highly affordable and should continue to aid in the ongoing housing recovery,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “For instance, existing home sales totaled 4.65 million in 2012, showing a 9.2 percent increase over 2011 and the strongest pace in five years. In addition, the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s purchase-only house price index rose 5.7 percent over the 12 months ending in November 2012, marking the largest annual increase since June 2006.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications continued to rise, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, climbed 7 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 8 percent, while the Purchase Index went up 9 percent. The increase in purchase applications was mainly for conventional loans.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained steady at 82 percent of total applications.

By  |  10:00 AM ET, 01/24/2013

 
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