Average long-term mortgage rates ease slightly this week

WASHINGTON — U.S. long-term average mortgage rates dipped slightly again this week after the key 30-year loan rate rose nearly a quarter of a point last week.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the 30-year rate fell to 5.13% from 5.22% last week. Last year at this time, the rate stood at 2.86%.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, popular with those looking to refinance their homes, inched down to 4.55% from 4.59% last week. A year ago, it was 2.16%.

Rapidly rising interest rates, which add hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage payments, have pushed many potential buyers to back off this year, cooling the once-red-hot real estate market.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing home sales fell for the sixth straight month in July, slowed by higher mortgage rates and home prices that continue to rise steadily, albeit at a slower pace.

The national median home price rose 10.8% in July from a year earlier to $403,800. A few months ago, the year-over-year price increase for an existing home was around 15%.

Sales of previously occupied homes fell 5.9% from June and are down more than 20% from a year earlier.

The Federal Reserve has raised its main lending rate four times this year in an effort to curb four-decade high inflation. Mortgage rates do not necessarily reflect Federal Reserve rate increases. They tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is influenced by a variety of factors, including investor expectations about future inflation and global demand for US Treasuries.

Recently, faster inflation and strong economic growth in the US have pushed the 10-year Treasury rate up sharply.

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