Mortgage rates around the country edged up this week, but economists said the rates remain low enough to keep the housing market healthy.

The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 6.13 percent, compared with 6.03 percent last week, Freddie Mac said Wednesday in its weekly nationwide survey. For the week ending Nov. 15, 30-year rates were at 5.94 percent, the lowest level since Freddie began tracking the benchmark rate in 1971. It also had marked the seventh time this year that 30-year rates hit a new low.

"Mortgage rates have been so low and accommodating that total home sales surged in October as families took advantage of the affordable atmosphere," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist.

Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rose to 5.57 percent, compared with 5.44 percent last week.

Total mortgage loan applications dipped by 5.8 percent last week from the previous week but remained at brisk levels, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said Wednesday. Refinancing activity accounted for 76.6 percent of those applications.

For one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, rates increased to 4.19 percent this week, compared with 4.14 percent last week.

This week's mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The 30-year mortgage loans carried an average fee of 0.6 point this week, while 15-year mortgages and 1-year ARMs each carried an average fee of 0.5 point this week.

EVENTS . . . The Virginia Housing Development Authority plans free homeownership classes in December at the Arlington Mill Community Center, 4975 Columbia Pike, Arlington. Sessions: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 7, in English or Spanish, call 703-527-3854 to register; 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18, call 888-643-2696 to register. Topics are to include budgeting, credit, mortgages and ownership responsibilities. For information and upcoming sessions, call 888-643-2696; Web site: . . . "The Path to Homeownership Begins @ Your Library," a program co-sponsored by the American Library Association and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, is scheduled for Dec. 14 at Northeast Library, 330 Seventh St. NE, Washington. The two-hour program, which begins at 2 p.m., is to discuss overcoming barriers to ownership, especially for low- and moderate-income or minority buyers. Other sessions are scheduled each month at libraries in the District. The program is free and registration is required. For information, call 202-727-1151. . . . The Northern Virginia Building Industry Association is to sponsor the program "On the Road With Debbie Rosenstein, from 8 to 11 a.m. Dec. 13 at the Pooks Hill Marriott, 5151 Pooks Hill Rd., Bethesda. Rosenstein, a market researcher, plans to discuss realty market trends. Registration is $65 and includes breakfast; member discounts apply. For information call 703-817-0154.

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