Average 30-year mortgage rate ticks up to 3.58 per cent

WASHINGTON – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates were little changed this week at or near their lows for the year.

The low rates come amid the spring home buying season, which is drawing prospective purchasers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked up to 3.58 per cent from 3.57 per cent last week. It’s far below its level a year ago of 3.84 per cent.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was steady at 2.81 per cent.

Prices of U.S. government bonds were little changed over the past week. Long-term bond yields, which move in the opposite direction from their prices, tend to influence mortgage rates.

But bond prices sank Wednesday after the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting indicated that Fed policymakers are inclined to raise interest rates in June if the economy keeps improving. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note surged to 1.86 per cent from 1.71 per cent late Tuesday.

“The hawkish tone of Wednesday’s Fed minutes release had an immediate impact on Treasury yield and could possibly shake up next week’s survey results,” said Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 per cent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.6 point, up from 0.5 point last week. The fee for a 15-year loan was unchanged at 0.5 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year mortgages averaged 2.8 per cent this week, up from 2.78 per cent last week. The fee was steady at 0.5 per cent.