Thursday, March 17, 2005

Fixed-rate mortgage rates hit seven-month highs


WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Interest rates on 30- and 15-year mortgages rose to their highest levels in seven months, according to a report Thursday by mortgage finance company Freddie Mac.

U.S. 30-year mortgage rates rose to an average of 5.95% in the week ended March 17 from 5.85% a week earlier. It was the highest level for 30-year mortgage rates since they hit 5.99% in early August.

Fifteen-year mortgage rates also rose in the week to an average of 5.47% from 5.38%, the highest since 5.49% in late July.

Rates on one-year adjustable rate mortgages (ARM) fell to 4.20% from 4.24% last week.

A year ago, 30-year mortgage rates averaged 5.38%, 15-year mortgage rates 4.69% and ARM rates 3.39%.

The hybrid "5/1" ARM, set at a fixed rate for five years, then adjustable each year following, averaged 5.31%, up from 5.22% last week.

Housing has remained buoyant, kept aloft by long-term interest rates that have stayed relatively low in the face of a half-dozen rises in short-term rates by the Federal Reserve.

Freddie Mac said lenders charged an average of 0.7% in fees and points on 30-year mortgages, up from 0.6% last week. They charged 0.7% on 15-year mortgages, up from 0.6% last week, and 0.8% on the one-year ARM, up from the prior week's 0.7%.

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