30-Year Rates Inch Up to 6.62%

From News Services and Staff Reports
Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rates on 30-year mortgages climbed this week for the eighth time in the past nine weeks, hitting the highest level in nearly four years.

Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.62 percent, up from 6.60 percent last week.

This week's rate was the highest since the week ended June 20, 2002, when 30-year mortgages were at 6.63 percent.

The housing sector, which has enjoyed five boom years, is exhibiting numerous signs of slowing under the impact of rising mortgage rates.

The latest such evidence came Thursday with a report from the National Association of Realtors that sales of existing homes fell 2 percent in April with the median price of homes sold last month rising at the slowest pace in 4 1/2 years.

Analysts believe that housing will experience a gradual slowing this year but not a crash as long as the Federal Reserve calls a halt soon to its two-year campaign to push interest rates higher to slow the economy and control inflation.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last week that while housing is slowing down this year, "this looks to be a very orderly and moderate kind of cooling."

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing a home mortgage, rose to 6.23 percent, up from 6.20 percent last week.

Rates for one-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged 5.61 percent this week, down slightly from 5.62 percent last week. Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages also edged down slightly, dropping to 6.21 percent, from 6.23 percent last week.

The mortgage rates do not include points. The 30-year and 15-year mortgages carried a nationwide average fee of 0.4 point. The one-year ARM had an average fee of 0.7 point, while the five-year ARM carried an average fee of 0.6 point.

A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.65 percent, 15-year mortgages stood at 5.21 percent, one-year ARMs were at 4.21 percent and five-year ARMs averaged 5.07 percent.

EVENT . . . The National Housing Conference , an affordable housing advocacy group, will hold its 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner on June 7 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Tickets are $500. For more details, contact 202- 466-2121, Ext. 221, or go to http://www.nhc.org/ .

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