The typical interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage shot above 3.5% early this week for the first time in more than four months, according to the widely watched Freddie Mac survey.
Freddie Mac's weekly tally, released Thursday morning, showed lenders were offering the loan to solid borrowers at an average 3.53%, up from 3.42% last week. It was the first time since the week of Sept. 13 that the 30-year mortgage rate topped 3.5%.
The typical rate on a 15-year fixed loan, a type popular with people refinancing their mortgages, jumped to 2.81% from 2.71% a week earlier, Freddie said.
Borrowers would have paid 0.7% of the loan amount in lender fees and discount points to obtain the rates, according to the McLean, Va., home finance giant.
Higher rates are to be expected as the economy gradually strengthens, helped by the improving housing market, Freddie Mac said.
Data cited by Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, included:
-- New home sales of 367,000 in 2012, the most in three years and the first annual increase in seven years.
-- A trade industry gauge of pending home sales in 2012 that averaged its highest reading since 2006.
-- A 5.5% increase in the Case-Shiller composite index of home prices in 20 cities for the 12 months ending in November, the largest annual growth since August 2006.
Freddie Mac's weekly report, the longest-running survey of mortgage rates, began tracking the 30-year home loan in 1970. It asks lenders to report rates and fees they are offering to borrowers with solid credit on loans for up to 80% of the home's value.
The record low for the survey, recorded the week of Nov. 21, was 3.31% for the 30-year mortgage.
Industry professionals say people who shop around often find somewhat better rates, and it's possible to lower the rate by paying additional discount points -- prepaid interest -- to the lender upfront. Third-party charges generally paid by borrowers, such as for appraisals and title insurance, are not included.