Mortgage rates edged higher early this week, with Freddie Mac’s survey showing lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans to solid borrowers at 4.37%, up from 4.28% a week earlier.
The average rate for a 15-year fixed home loan rose from 3.32% to 3.38%, according to Thursday’s report, and the start rate also rose for variable-rate loans with an initial five years at a fixed rate.
Analysts said a positive report on employment late last week contributed to the trend. The economy added a better-than-expected 175,000 jobs in February despite harsh weather, the government said, and figures for the two previous months each were revised upward by 25,000.
An improving economy would mean less pressure on the Federal Reserve to keep rates low and an increased chance of rising inflation. To compensate, lenders and investors in mortgage backed securities such as those issued by Freddie Mac would tend to demand higher rates.
Freddie Mac’s weekly rates survey, conducted since 1971, asks lenders about the terms they are offering to creditworthy borrowers with 20% down payments or equivalent home equity if they are refinancing.
The borrowers would pay less than 1% to lenders in upfront fees and discount points. Paying additional points can lower the mortgage rate, while zero-cost loans are available if the borrower accepts a higher rate.