WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages have risen for a fourth straight week, remaining slightly above record lows. Cheap mortgages have helped fuel a modest housing recovery this year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.66 percent, up from 3.62 percent last week. Four weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, edged up to 2.89 percent. That’s up from 2.88 percent last week and from the record low of 2.8 percent four weeks ago.
The availability of low rates has lifted home sales higher this year. Prices also have increased, largely because the supply of homes has shrunk while sales have risen.
Builder confidence is also at its highest level since March 2007, according to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders.
The housing market’s recovery will likely add to economic growth in 2012 for the first time in seven years. Home purchases, construction and prices are gradually but consistently increasing.