Average long-term mortgage rates retreat slightly this week

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates came back down slightly this week after the key 30-year loan rate jumped nearly a quarter 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 among those looking to refinance their homes, inched down to 4.55% from 4.59% last week. One year ago, it was 2.16%.

Rapidly rising interest rates — which add hundreds of dollars to monthly mortgage payments — have pushed many potential homebuyers to the sideline this year, cooling the once red-hot housing market.

The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that existing home sales fell for the sixth consecutive month in July, slowed by higher mortgage rates and home prices that are still steadily rising, though at a slower pace.

The national median home price jumped 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 off more than 20% from a year ago.

The Federal Reserve has increased its main borrowing rate four times this year in an effort to curb four-decade high inflation. Mortgage rates don’t necessarily mirror the Fed’s rate increases. They tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which is influenced by a variety of factors, including investors’ expectations for future inflation and global demand for U.S. Treasurys.

Recently, faster inflation and strong U.S. economic growth have sent the 10-year Treasury rate up sharply.

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