Mortgage rates inched up this week, but remained well below the year-high levels set in the spring.

Freddie Mac, in its weekly survey released Thursday, reported that rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages were 5.72 percent for the week ending Sept. 30, compared with 5.7 percent last week.

Rates on 30-year mortgages hit a high this year of 6.34 percent the week of May 13. Rates have slowly drifted downward as economic activity cooled in the late spring and early summer and inflation fears receded.

For 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates were 5.12 percent, up from 5.10 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages dipped to 3.97 percent, compared with 4 percent the previous week.

Mortgage rates have remained restrained even as the Federal Reserve has raised a key short-term interest rate. The Fed last week bumped up the target for its federal funds rate to 1.75 percent, marking the third rate increase since June. The funds rate is the interest banks charge each other on overnight loans and is the Fed's main tool for influencing economic activity.

Economists say the Fed needs to slowly raise the funds rate from extraordinarily low levels to more normal levels to protect against inflation becoming a problem in the future.

"Low mortgage rates continue to keep the housing market vibrant," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. He expects rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to remain below 6 percent for the rest of the year.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. All three mortgage categories carried a 0.6 point fee.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.98 percent, with 15-year mortgages at 5.30 percent and one-year ARMs at 3.77 percent.

AWARDS . . . Bea Rodgers, property manager with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage's Andrews/Camp Springs office, was named the member of the year for Maryland by the Women's Council of Realtors. Rodgers, recently installed as the 2005 president of the Prince George's County Association of Realtors, is also a member of its women's council. She was selected for her award among all of the WCR chapters in Maryland.

EVENTS . . . The Northern Virginia Building Industry Association's Prince William chapter is sponsoring its annual oyster roast from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 27 at Belmont Bay, 530-A Harbor Side St., Woodbridge. Join members and professionals for dinner and drinks. Registration required by Oct. 22; admission is $45 for NVBIA members, $55 for non-members. For information call 703-817-0154; Web site:

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