Average 30-year fixed mortgage rates rose this week to the highest level in seven months, reflecting higher yields on long-term Treasurys.
Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate increased to 4.86 percent from 4.81 percent in the previous week. It hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent last month.
The average rate on the 15-year loan rose to 4.20 percent from 4.15 percent — the highest reading in six months. It fell to 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records starting in 1991.
Mortgage rates overall have been rising since November as investors shift money out of Treasurys and into stocks. Many expect the tax-cut plan will fuel economic growth and increase inflation. Yields tend to rise on fears of inflation. Mortgage rates track the yields on the 10-year Treasury note.
Historically low mortgage rates did little to help the struggling housing market and the recent spike inmortgage rates is likely to further hamper sales.
The number of people who signed contracts to buy homes rose 3.5 percent in November from the previous month, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That marked the fourth gain since contract signings hit a low in June, but sales are still 5 percent below a year ago.
And the pace of home sales this year is shaping up to be the slowest in 13 years.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.
The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.77 percent from 3.75 percent. The five-year hit 3.25 percent last month, the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.
The average rate on one-year adjustable-rate home loans dropped to 3.26 percent from 3.40 percent.
The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The average fee for the 30-year and 15-year loans in Freddie Mac's survey was 0.8 point. The average fee for the five-year ARM was 0.7 point, and the fee for the 1-year ARM was 0.6 point.