WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for the second straight week, staying slightly above historic lows.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the rate on 30-year loans increased to 3.59 percent, up from 3.55 percent the previous week. Three weeks ago, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average rate on 15-year fixed mortgages, a popular refinancing option, rose to 2.84 percent. That’s up from 2.83 percent a week earlier and a record low of 2.80 percent two weeks ago.
Cheap mortgages have helped drive a modest housing recovery this year. Home sales are higher than last year, although they are still below healthy levels.
U.S. home prices are also rising. Prices for all homes, including distressed properties, jumped 2.5 percent in June from the same month in 2011, CoreLogic reported.
Mortgage rates are low because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. A weaker U.S. economy and uncertainty about how Europe will resolve its debt crisis have led investors to buy more Treasury securities. The average does not include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for 30-year loans was 0.6 point, down from 0.7 point the previous week.