Mortgage rates continue to edge higher

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The typical offering rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains below 5% for well-qualified borrowers, but for how long?

The average rate for the benchmark mortgage rose for the fourth straight week, according to Freddie Mac, which said in a report Thursday that the lenders it surveyed were offering 30-year loans at 4.91% this week.

That’s up from 4.87% last week and compares with 5.07% a year ago and 5.05% in the Feb. 11 survey, a recent high point for mortgage loans.

Borrowers would have paid 0.6% of the loan amount in upfront fees to the lender to obtain the 30-year loan, Freddie Mac said.


They also would have needed to have good credit scores and 20% down payments or equivalent home equity if they were refinancing to qualify for the rate in the Freddie Mac survey.

Rates for 15-year fixed loans and adjustable rate mortgages also edged higher, Freddie Mac said.

Some look-on-the-bright-side observations from Frank Nothaft, an economist for the giant government-controlled finance company:

Although rates on 30-year fixed mortgages have risen four weeks in a row, they have remained below 5 percent for eight straight weeks now, helping to maintain affordability in the housing market. Meanwhile, consumer purchases of retail goods rose for the ninth consecutive month in March, suggesting families have an increasing capacity to spend, which bodes well for the economic recovery.


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Weekly gauge shows fewer borrowers applied for home loans

-- E. Scott Reckard