Mortgage rates around the country went up this week, with 30-year mortgages climbing to the highest level since early September.

Freddie Mac, in its weekly survey released Thursday, reported that rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 5.82 percent for the week ended Oct. 7. That was up sharply from 5.72 percent last week and marked the highest rate since the week ending Sept. 9, when 30-year mortgage rates averaged 5.83 percent.

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

But rates rose in the past two weeks, reflecting investors' growing belief that the economy has emerged from its soft spot and is gaining some traction.

"The financial market thinks we've passed the 'soft patch' in the economy, which would translate into stronger growth in the coming months," said Amy Crews Cutts, an economist with Freddie Mac. "Stronger growth means a greater threat of inflation and that means interest rates will start to rise."

For 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates increased this week to 5.24 percent, compared with 5.12 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages climbed to 4.08 percent, up from 3.97 percent.

Even with the increases, rates are still considered low by historical standards. "Today's rates are still a great bargain compared to even just a few years ago when long-term mortgage rates astounded the industry by falling to about 7 percent and even lower," Crews Cutts said.

The Mortgage Bankers Association, meanwhile, said refinancing accounted for 47.1 percent of all home mortgage applications filed last week, up from 45.9 percent the previous week.

EVENTS . . . The Northern Virginia Parade of Custom Homes is today and tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tour 25 custom-built houses at the event, sponsored by the Custom Builders Council of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. Pick up a $10 ticket and information at the first house you visit. For more information, call 703-318-1550. . . . The Northern Virginia Building Industry Association Job Fair will be held 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday at the Waterford in Fair Oaks, 12025 Lee Jackson Memorial Highway, Fairfax. Exhibitors include builders and related firms, offering jobs in the industry. Phone 703-817-0154, ext. 112, or 703-352-3200; visit www.nvbia.com for more information.

AWARDS . . . Two Washington groups, Preservation Action and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, were among national award winners recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation at its annual conference recently. Preservation Action received the trust's John H. Chafee Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement in Public Policy for its lobbying efforts for federal laws and policies aiding preservation efforts. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society received the Trustees' Award for Organizational Excellence for its preservation and community revitalization efforts.

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