NEW YORK - U.S. fixed home loan rates edged above record lows in the past week, tracking bond yields higher following surprise improvement in November employment, home funding company Freddie Mac (FRE.N)(FRE.P) said on Thursday.
Thirty-year mortgages averaged 4.81 percent, up 0.10 percentage point from the previous week, when it hit the lowest level since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 1971.
Historically low mortgage rates, largely a response to government interventions such as the purchase of more than $1.4 trillion in mortgage-related debt, are helping restore stability in hard-hit U.S. housing after a three-year dive.
High unemployment and fear of job loss has curbed homebuyer appetite despite enticing borrowing costs and discounted house prices,
The Labor Department reported last Friday that the unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent in November from a 26-1/2-year high of 10.2 percent in October.
Following an upbeat employment report, long-term bond yields rose slightly and fixed mortgage rates followed in the week ended December 10, Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said in a statement.
Despite the rise, rates on 30-year fixed mortgages are almost 0.7 percentage points below those at the same time last year, (which) translates into an $81 lower monthly payment on a $200,000 conventional mortgage, Nothaft said.
The average 15-year mortgage rate climbed to 4.32 percent in the past week from 4.27 percent, which was a record low dating back to when Freddie started tracking this rate weekly in 1991. A year ago, 15-year home loans averaged 5.20 percent.
Lenders charged an average of 0.7 points in fees on the 30-year loan and 0.6 points on the 15-year mortgage, unchanged in the week.
(Reporting by Lynn Adler; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)