Gene J. Puskar/AP WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose slightly last week but remained near historically low levels.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.16 percent from 4.10 percent last week, which was the lowest level in four months. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.27 percent from 3.20 percent.
Rates have been falling since September when the Federal Reserve surprised investors by continuing to buy $85 billion a month in bonds. The purchases are intended to keep long-term interest rates low.
Slower hiring in recent months has many analysts predicting that the Fed will maintain the current pace of the bond purchases into early next year, which should keep mortgage rates low for the time being.
The recent drop in mortgage rates could help boost home sales, which slowed in September after rates reached their highest averages in two years.
The decline in sales has also affected price gains. Real estate data provider CoreLogic said Tuesday that a measure of U.S. home prices rose only slightly in September from August, a sign that prices are leveling off after big gains earlier this year.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday 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 percent of the loan amount.