(Freddie Mac)

Mortgage rates held steady this week, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

296Armschart0404

The 30-year fixed-rate average inched up to 3.7 percent with an average 0.6 point. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) It was 3.69 percent a week ago and 4.41 percent a year ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate average is slightly higher at 2.98 percent with an average 0.6 point, but remained below 3 percent for the second week in a row. It was 2.97 percent a week ago and 3.47 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were unchanged. The five-year ARM average remained at 2.92 percent with an average 0.5 point, the same as last week. It was 3.12 percent a year ago.

For the fourth week in a row, the one-year ARM average stayed at 2.46 percent with an average 0.4 point.

“Mortgage rates were little changed this week entering April about where we started the year,” Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist, said in a statement.

“The final estimate of real GDP growth for the fourth quarter of 2014 was unchanged from the prior estimate of a 2.2 percent annualized rate. Meanwhile, the National Association of Realtors reported that pending home sales rose 3.1 percent in February, beating expectations. The pending home sales index was at the highest level since June of 2013 when 30-year fixed mortgage rates averaged 4.07 percent, 0.37 percentage points higher than this week’s survey.”

As the spring buying season gets into full swing, mortgage applications ticked up again last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, increased 4.6 percent. The refinance index rose 4 percent, while the purchase index climbed 6 percent. Purchase applications have shown year-over-year increases for 12 straight weeks.

“The increase in purchase volume was led by a nearly 6 percent increase in both conventional and government markets, perhaps signaling that households are finally ready to begin the home-buying season,” Lynn Fisher, MBA’s vice president of research and economics, said in a statement.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 60 percent of all applications.

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