U.S. mortgage rates were little changed, keeping borrowing costs close to record lows as home values climb after the worst slump since the Great Depression.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.38 percent in the week ended Thursday, down from 3.4 percent, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate held at 2.66 percent.
Low borrowing costs are spurring buyer demand while tight inventories of properties on the market bolster prices. U.S. home prices jumped 7.4 percent in November from a year earlier, the ninth straight increase and the biggest gain since May 2006, Irvine, California-based data provider CoreLogic said this week.
“We still have a long way to go to return to 2005-2006 levels, but all signals currently point to a progressive stabilization of the housing market and the positive trend in home-price appreciation to continue into 2013,” Anand Nallathambi, CoreLogic’s president and chief executive officer, said in a Jan. 15 statement.
U.S. housing starts climbed 12.1 percent in December from the previous month to a 954,000 annual rate, the most since June 2008, Commerce Department data showed.
Home-loan applications in the U.S. rose 15.2 percent in the week ended Jan. 11, the most since the end of September, following an 11.7 percent increase the previous week, the Washington-based Mortgage Bankers Association said.
The average 30-year mortgage rate dropped to a record 3.31 percent in November, according to Freddie Mac. The 15-year rate fell to 2.63 percent.
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