Mortgage rates rose for the seventh consecutive week on signs that the Federal Reserve may soon raise its key funds rate, according to surveys conducted by mortgage buyer Freddie Mac and Bankrate.

In Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.12 percent for the week ended today, up from last week when it averaged 6.01 percent.

The average for the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week is 5.47 percent, up from last week when it averaged 5.35 percent. Points on both the 30- and 15-year averaged 0.7.

One-year Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.76 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, up slightly from last week when it averaged 3.75 percent.

“A steady drip of good economic news coupled with the Federal Reserve’s change of language in their statement this week reinforced market expectations that the Fed may raise rates sooner than expected,” said Amy Crews Cutts, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. “That expectation carried over into the housing sector causing a rise in mortgage rates for the seventh week in a row.

“In the meantime, employment numbers that will be released tomorrow will either confirm that last month’s figures can be sustained, or it will show that the market got ahead of itself. Either way, there is too much volatility at the moment to say precisely where rates will be even as early as next week.”

Mortgage rates continued to increase sharply this week, with the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage shooting up from 6.07 percent to 6.18 percent, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey of large lenders. The mortgages in this week’s survey had an average of 0.4 discount and origination points.

In the past seven weeks, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has increased more than three-quarters of a percent, from 5.41 percent to 6.18 percent. The last time mortgage rates were this high was Sept. 22, 2003, when the 30-year fixed stood at 6.22 percent.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage popular for refinancing climbed from 5.4 percent to 5.52 percent. The jumbo 30-year fixed-rate mortgage leaped 12 basis points to 6.37 percent, while the one-year adjustable-rate mortgage moved up 5 basis points to 3.9 percent. A basis point is one one-hundredth of one percentage point.

Mortgage rates have gone up seven weeks in a row. The rise has happened in four stages:

  • In late March, speculation circulated that Japan’s central bank would cut down on its purchases of U.S. government debt and that an employment report due April 2 would contain good news.

  • The March employment report, released April 2, did indeed bear unexpectedly good news. It said that the U.S. economy had created a net 308,000 jobs in the third month. Job-creation numbers for the two previous months were revised upward, too.

  • The consumer price index released April 14 suggested that inflation had revived after lying in a coma for three years.

  • The Fed’s rate-setting panel met this week and kept a key short-term rate steady, but implied that a rate hike is due in a few months. Once again, investors speculated that an upcoming April employment report, due Friday (May 7), would bring good news.

Each of these events caused mortgage rates to rise 5 to 20 basis points, after which they held steady for a few days-until the next event.

The following is a sampling of Bankrate’s average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas.

New York – 6.17 percent with 0.19 point

Los Angeles – 6.16 percent with 0.64 point

Chicago – 6.26 percent with 0.14 point

San Francisco – 6.21 percent with 0.47 point

Philadelphia – 6.19 percent with 0.31 point

Detroit – 6.08 percent with 0.53 point

Boston – 6.24 percent with 0.1 point

Houston – 6.17 percent with 0.55 point

Dallas – 6.14 percent with 0.59 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.17 percent with 0.5 point

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Send tips, feedback or a letter to the editor to newsroom@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 124.

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