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Mortgage rates continued to grow in the most recent week, now approaching very close to the level of interest rates at the beginning of the year.

This information came from Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended February 21 which reported that 30-year fixed rate mortgages (FRMs) averaged 6.04 percent with 0.6 point up from the previous week when it averaged 5.72 percent with 0.4 point. The 30-year started out the year at 6.07 percent but had dropped as low as 5.48 percent in January before beginning to climb again.

The 15-year FRM averaged 5.64 percent with 0.5 point. The previous week the average was 5.25 percent with 0.4 point. The 15-year has increased 69 basis points since late January after averaging 5.68 the first week of the year.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) carried an average rate of 5.37 percent with 0.5 point; the previous week the rate was 5.19 percent with 0.4 point.

The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM reversed the trend, dropping slightly from 5.0 percent with 0.4 point to 4.98 percent with 0.6 point. This is the lowest rate for the short-term ARM in 2008.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist commented, "After trending up in the past two weeks, long-term fixed mortgage rates are back up to nearly where they were at the beginning of the year. In contrast, average rates on adjustable-rate mortgages are about 0.5 percentage points below levels of the first week of this year. As the spread between long-term fixed-rates and adjustable-rates widens, it's possible we could see a slight increase in the popularity of adjustable-rate mortgages.

The Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) for the week ended February 22 reported an across the board increase in rates.

The 30-year FRM increased 18 basis points to 6.27 percent, with points, including the origination fee, increasing from 1.10 to 1.15. The average contract interest rate for 15-year FRMs rose from 5.55 percent with 1.08 points to 5.77 percent with 1.01 points. The interest rate on one-year ARMs was also up, from 5.72 percent to 5.84 percent with points decreasing to 0.86 from 0.91.

Mortgage application volume decreased 19.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from the volume a week earlier and decreased 25.8 percent on an unadjusted basis. Application volume was up from one year earlier but only by 5.1 percent instead of the double-digit increases we have been seeing for quite some time.

Applications for refinancing, which had represented as much as 73 percent of all activity in late January last week decreased to 52 percent from 61.7 percent during the week ended January 15. The market share of adjustable rate mortgages rose from 12.8 percent to 15.0 percent.