U.S. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates jumped to 3.98 percent in the week ending Jan. 26, up from a record low of 3.88 percent in the previous week, according to Freddie Mac.
The increase reversed three weeks of consecutive new record low rates, possibly signaling a shift in the market that favors lenders.
Fixed mortgage rates ticked up this week as the housing market ended 2011 on a high note, said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac, in a statement. He noted that the most recent data for new construction of single-family homes, existing home sales and pending home sales all rose to the highest levels in over a year.
The average mortgage rate has been below 4 percent for eight weeks, near historic lows. However, increased underwriting standards and higher down payments have made securing mortgages more difficult for borrowers.
Low rates haven't driven that many new sales, with around 80 percent of recent mortgage transactions being refinances. On Tuesday, President Obama announced that he would submit legislation to Congress to make it easier for Americans to refinance and take advantage of lower rates, which may boost the economy by freeing up more money for consumer spending.
The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was 3.24 percent, up from 3.17 percent in the previous week and down from 4.09 percent in the previous year.
Five-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 2.85 percent, up compared 2.82 percent in the previous week and down from 3.70 percent in the previous year. One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.74 percent, unchanged from the previous week and 3.26 percent in the previous year.