Mortgage rates are trending upward


(Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Mortgage rates moved higher for the third week in a row, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average jumped to 3.59 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was up from 3.51 percent last week but down from 3.78 percent a year ago. Until last week, the 30-year fixed rate had remained below 3.5 percent for more than a month.

The 15-year fixed-rate average climbed to 2.77 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 2.69 percent a week ago and 3.04 percent a year ago. Despite the increase, the 15-year fixed rate has not been above 3 percent in nearly a year.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages held steady. The five-year ARM edged up to 2.63 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 2.62 percent a week ago. The one-year ARM remained the same as a week ago at 2.55 percent with an average 0.4 point.

“While [higher rates] may slow some of the refinance momentum, rates are nonetheless low and home-buyer affordability high, which should further aid home sales and construction in coming weeks,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “For instance, in April, single family housing permits rose to the strongest pace since May 2008 while existing home sales for the same month grew the most since November 2009. Moreover, the National Association of Realtors reported that the median number of days on the market for these sales fell from 62 to 46 days, the fewest since it began collecting the data in May 2011.”

Rising interest rates are causing mortgage applications to dwindle, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, declined 9.8 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index dropped 12 percent, while the Purchase Index fell 3 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity fell to 74 percent of total applications.

“Mortgage rates increased to their highest level since March last week, leading to the largest single week drop in refinance applications this year,” Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement. “The refinance index has fallen almost 19 percent over the past two weeks and is back to its lowest level since late March. Purchase activity declined over the week but is still running about 10 percent above last year’s pace at this time.”

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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Kathy Orton · May 23, 2013