WASHINGTON – Mortgage rates around the country rose this week but remain at a level that should continue to support the buoyant housing market.
In its weekly survey, mortgage giant Freddie Mac (FRE) reported Thursday that for the week ending July 7, rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.62 percent, up from last week's 5.53 percent, which had marked the lowest rate since early April 2004.
"Although mortgage rates ticked up this week, the 30-year mortgage rate -- apart from a brief two-week stint in March -- stayed below 6 percent all year," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist. "As a result, the housing industry is likely headed for another record-breaking year," he said.
Low mortgage rates, which powered home sales to record highs four years in a row, is keeping the housing market thriving.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (search) has said there are signs of "froth" in some local markets where house prices seem to have risen to "unsustainable levels." It doesn't appear likely, however, that a national housing bubble, which could pop and send prices tumbling, will develop, the Fed chief has said.
Freddie Mac, in an updated economic forecast released Thursday, predicted house prices, which soared by 11 percent last year, will increase by 7.9 percent this year. That's up from an earlier projection of a 7.7 percent rise for 2005. Next year, home prices should grow by 6.8 percent.
Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing a home mortgage, averaged 5.20 percent this week, up from 5.12 percent last week.
For one-year adjustable rate mortgages, rates rose to 4.33 percent this week, compared with 4.24 percent last week. Rates on five-year hybrid adjustable rate mortgages averaged 5.19 percent this week, up from 5.06 percent.
Good mortgage rates are also rekindling refinancing activity. Refinancings accounted for 45.7 percent of all mortgage loan applications filed last week, up from 45.4 percent the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (search).
The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year mortgages carry an average fee of 0.6 point; the other three mortgage categories each had a fee of 0.7 point.
A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 6.01 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 5.42 percent and one-year ARMs averaged 4.05 percent. Freddie Mac does not have historical data on the five-year ARM which it began tracking this year.