Fixed mortgage rates continue to climb


(Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Fixed mortgage rates continued to climb while adjustable rates eased last week, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average crept up to 4.37 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 4.33 percent a week ago and 3.51 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate is edging closer to 4.5 percent. It hasn’t been at that level since early January.

The 15-year fixed-rate average rose to 3.39 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 3.35 percent a week ago and 2.76 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has remained below 3.5 percent for nearly two months.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages inched downward. The five-year ARM average dropped to 3.05 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.08 percent a week ago and 2.61 percent a year ago.

(James Smallwood/The Washington Post)
(James Smallwood/The Washington Post)

The one-year ARM average sank to 2.52 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.57 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates edged up with new home sales exceeding expectations and rising to a seasonally adjusted pace of 468,000 units in January, the strongest annual rate since July 2008,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“The 9.6 percent increase in new home sales for January followed an upward revision of 13,000 units in December. The [Standard and Poor]/Case-Shiller 20-city composite house price index rose 13.4 percent over the 12-months ending in December 2013.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications plummeted last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, sank 8.5 percent. The Refinance Index tumbled 11 percent. The Purchase Index dropped to its lowest level since 1995, falling 4 percent.

“Purchase applications were little changed on an unadjusted basis last week, but this is the time of year we would expect a significant pickup in purchase activity, and we are not yet seeing it,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist, in a statement.

The refinance share of mortgage activity declined to its lowest level since September, accounting for 58 percent of all applications.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market. Previously, she wrote for the Sports section. She came to The Washington Post in 1996 from the Los Angeles Daily News. She also worked at the Cincinnati Post. She is the author of the book, “Outside the Limelight: Basketball in the Ivy League.”
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Kathy Orton | February 27