Fixed mortgage rates this week rose for the first time in 2015, with Freddie Mac's widely watched survey pegging the 30-year conventional rate at 3.66%, up from 3.63% last week.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed home loan was 2.98%, up from 2.93%. Start rates for adjustable loans rose as well, Freddie Mac said Thursday.
The average rate for a 30-year conventional mortgage had been 4% or higher for 18 months before dropping below that threshold in December.
This boon for borrowers was triggered by powerful global demand for safe securities denominated in strong U.S. dollars. That has pushed down the yields, or effective interest rates, on Treasury and mortgage securities, and mortgage rates have followed.
Freddie Mac asks lenders each Monday through Wednesday about the terms they are offering on mortgages of up to $417,000 that can be backed by Freddie and Fannie Mae, its sibling mortgage finance company. The two firms jointly guarantee about 60% of U.S. home loans.
The borrowers in Freddie Mac's survey are assumed to have 20% down payments and to pay about half of 1% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and discount points. Payments for such services as appraisals and title insurance are not included.
The survey provides a consistent gauge of mortgage trends, but actual rates adjust constantly and are influenced by many factors. In addition to borrowers' credit histories and debt loads, the factors include whether the borrowers opt for zero-cost loans at higher rates or pay extra to lenders initially to lower the rates.