The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose slightly this week, following increases in Treasury yields.
The average rate rose to 4.74 percent this week from 4.71 percent the previous week, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The average rate on the 15-year loan, a popular refinance option, slipped to 4.05 percent from 4.08 percent.
Mortgage rates have changed little in the new year after spiking more than half a percentage point in the last two months. Investors sold off Treasurys bonds during that stretch, driving yields lower. Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note.
The 30-year loan rate reached a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November, and the 15-year mortgage rate fell to 3.57 percent, the lowest level on records dating back to 1991.
Historically low rates have done little to boost the struggling housing market. Fewer people bought previously owned homes last year than in any year since 1997, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.
The group said sales fell 4.8 percent last year to 4.91 million units. That was a few thousand homes lower than sales levels in 2008, making it the worst level in 13 years.
Record high foreclosures, a weak job market and expectations that prices will fall further have convinced potential buyers to hold off on purchasing homes.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.
The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage slipped to 3.69 percent from 3.72 percent. The five-year hit 3.25 percent last month, the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.
The average rate on one-year adjustable-rate home loans rose to 3.25 percent from 3.23 percent.
The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The average fee for the 30-year and 15-year loan in Freddie Mac's survey was 0.8 point. The average fee for the five-year ARM was 0.7 point, and the fee for the 1-year ARM was 0.6 point.
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