Average rates for 30-year fixed-rate U.S. mortgages increased slightly to 4 percent from 3.98 percent in the week ending Dec. 1, according to Freddie Mac.

The average fixed mortgage rate has been at or below 4 percent for five consecutive weeks, near a historic low. The rate was 4.46 percent at the same time last year.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.30 percent in the week ending Dec. 1, unchanged from the previous week, and down from 3.81 percent last year. Five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.90 percent, down from 2.91 percent from last week and 3.49 percent in 2010. The one-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.78 percent, down from 2.79 percent last week and 3.49 percent in 2010.

"Mortgage rates were little changed this past week," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist of Freddie Mac, in a statement.

"This week the Federal Reserve released its latest Beige Book review of regional economic conditions, noting that the residential real estate market generally remained sluggish through the first half of the fourth quarter but that the economy expanded at a moderate pace in 11 of its 12 Districts. The extraordinarily low mortgage rates of the past month may provide a needed spur to housing activity." 

Separately, Freddie said on Wednesday it would suspend evictions involving foreclosed single-family and two to four unit properties with Freddie Mac mortgages between Dec. 19 and Jan. 2, 2012.

"If the property is occupied, our foreclosure attorneys will suspend the eviction to provide families a greater measure of certainty during the holidays," said Tracy Mooney, senior vice president of servicing and REO at Freddie Mac, in a statement.