Fixed mortgage rates have leveled off more than a percentage point above recent lows, with Freddie Mac reporting that lenders this week were offering the 30-year home loan at an average of 4.57%, the same as last week.
The average offering rate for a 15-year fixed loan also was unchanged at 3.59%, according to Freddie Mac, which asks lenders about the terms they are offering to solid borrowers with down payments of 20% or more. Start rates on popular types of variable home loans were slightly lower.
The markets are awaiting a key Federal Reserve meeting next week, when the central bank could decide to begin scaling back its economic stimulus program. The Fed has been buying $85 billion in Treasury and mortgage securities every month, and anticipation that it would begin tapering off the purchases this month has been a major factor in the rising rates.
The higher rates have choked off the mortgage origination business, resulting in layoffs at many home lenders. The Mortgage Bankers Assn. said Wednesday that seasonally adjusted applications for home loans dropped 13.5% last week, with refinance applications down 20% and purchase applications 3%.