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30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate Up Slightly


McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Rates on 30-year-fixed mortgages rose slightly this week amid sagging consumer confidence and lower sale prices for existing homes, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage increased to 5.07 percent this week from 5.04 percent last week. A year ago, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.24 percent.

Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said consumer confidence fell in February to its lowest level since records began in January 1967. He said house prices are still falling, as are existing home sales.

"Lower house prices and affordable mortgage rates have yet to spur housing demand," Nothaft said.

On Wednesday, the National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes fell 5.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.49 million last month, from 4.74 million in December. It was the weakest showing since July 1997.

The median sales price for an existing home in January slid to $170,300, down 14.8 percent from $199,800 a year earlier and from $175,700 in December, the Realtors association reported.

Also Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that its weekly application index — an indicator of refinancing activity — fell 15.1 percent for the week ended Feb. 20.

Average rates for 30-year-fixed mortgages hit a record low of 4.96 percent in January, a decline attributed to the Federal Reserve's move to buy $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities to spur lending by banks.

This week's average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.68 percent — unchanged from last week. Last year at this time, the 15-year rate averaged 5.72 percent.

Average rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages increased to 5.06 percent, up slightly from 5.04 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose slightly to 4.81 percent from 4.8 percent last week.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee averaged 0.7 point for 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages, and for five-year adjustable rate mortgages. The fee for one-year adjustable rate mortgages was 0.6 point.

Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were seized by the federal government in September 2008, own or guarantee almost 31 million home loans worth about $5.5 trillion. That's more than half of all U.S home mortgages.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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