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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.
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