Mortgage rates rise above 6 percent

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rates on 30-year and 15-year mortgages went up this week, but they are still lower than for the same period a year ago.

For the week ending Dec. 5, the average rate on 30-year mortgages increased to 6.02 percent, up from 5.89 percent the previous week, Freddie Mac, the mortgage giant, reported Wednesday in its weekly nationwide survey of mortgage rates.

Rates on 30-year mortgages slid to 5.21 percent, the lowest level in more than four decades, in the middle of June. Since then, rates on these benchmark mortgages have bounced up and down.

For 15-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, rates rose to 5.36 percent, compared with 5.22 percent last week.

Rates for one-year adjustable mortgages, however, averaged 3.77 percent, unchanged from the previous week.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 6.19 percent, 15-year mortgages were 5.60 percent and one-year adjustable mortgages stood at 4.21 percent.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Each loan type carried an average fee of 0.6 point this week.

“Bond yields drifted higher and with them went mortgage rates,” Freddie Mac’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, said of the rise in long-term rates.

Even with the recent gyration in mortgage rates, David Lereah, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, predicts sales of both new homes and previously owned ones will hit record highs this year and that they both will post the second-best year ever in 2004.

“With the economy improving, consumer confidence rising and jobs being created, a growing number of households will sustain strong housing demand,” Lereah said.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America said refinancing accounted for 50 percent of all home-mortgage applications filed last week, down from 53.3 percent the previous week.