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Mortgage rates climb, disappointing would-be home buyers

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    WASHINGTON — Mortgage rates, which had been sliding, went up this week, disappointing news to would-be home buyers.
    Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 6.11 percent. That was up from last week’s rate of 5.96 percent, which was the lowest in more than two years. Until this week, rates on 30-year mortgages had been falling or holding steady each week since the middle of October.
    Other mortgage rates also moved higher this week.
    Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing, rose to 5.78 percent, from 5.65 percent last week.
    For five-year adjustable-rate mortgages, rates increased to 5.89 percent, compared with 5.75 percent last week. And, rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages moved up to 5.50 percent, from 5.46 percent last week.
    The pickup in mortgage rates around the country comes as some prospective home buyers struggle with a credit crunch that has made it more difficult to secure financing for homes and other big-ticket purchases. The worsening credit crunch has aggravated the housing slump, which is weighing heavily on national economic activity. The odds of a recession have grown.
    ‘‘The housing segment of the economy still has a way to go before bottoming out,’’ said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.
    The mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Thirty-year and 15-year mortgages each carried a nationwide average fee of 0.5 point. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages and one-year adjustable mortgages each had an average fee of 0.6 point.
    A year ago, 30-year mortgages stood at 6.12 percent. Rates on 15-year mortgages were at 5.86 percent a year ago, while five-year ARMS averaged 5.92 percent and one-year ARMs were at 5.45 percent.
    The housing market has been suffering through a severe slump, following five years of heady activity. Sales turned weak as did home prices. Foreclosures have climbed to record highs. The problems in housing are expected to persist well into next year.
    The boom-to-bust situation has been especially hard on homeowners with spotty credit and lower incomes. Overstretched borrowers in some cases have been stuck with mortgages that eclipse the value of their homes. Against this backdrop, the Bush administration last week unveiled a plan to help some distressed borrowers try to stay in their homes.

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