Mortgage rates climbed for a fourth week, pushing borrowing costs to the highest since February as demand for home loans slumps.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan rose to 4.91 percent this week from 4.87 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac. The 15-year rate averaged 4.13 percent, up from 4.10 percent a week ago, the mortgage-finance company said.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages that are fixed for the first five years averaged 3.78 percent, up from 3.72 percent last week. One-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.25 percent, up from 3.22 percent last week.

Rising borrowing costs are limiting demand for new loans and refinancing. Mortgage applications fell 6.7 percent last week to the lowest level in two months, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The group’s measure of refinancing declined 7.7 percent, while its index of purchases dropped 4.7 percent.

Home sales have been sluggish since a federal government tax credit for buyers ended a year ago. The pipeline of foreclosures, clogged by delays in processing delinquencies, is preventing prices from reaching a bottom. Foreclosure filings in the first quarter fell 27 percent from a year earlier as lenders worked through a backlog of flawed paperwork related to home seizures, according to a RealtyTrac report.

Sales of existing homes declined 9.6 percent in February, and distressed properties accounted for 39 percent of deals, the National Association of Realtors said last month.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan began climbing from a record low of 4.17 percent in November and reached a 10- month high of 5.05 percent in February. It is below where it was last year at this time.

—Bloomberg News


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