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McLEAN, Va. – Jan. 23, 2009 – Rates on 30-year mortgages rose above 5 percent this week, ending a five-week run at record low levels, Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Mortgage rates have been in decline since the Federal Reserve said in late November it would buy up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities to get banks to lend more money in hopes of bolstering the troubled U.S. housing market.

Freddie Mac reported Thursday that average rates on 30-year fixed mortgages rose to 5.12 percent this week from a record low of 4.96 percent established last week. At this time last year, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 5.48 percent.

Last week’s mark of 4.96 percent was the lowest since Freddie Mac started its survey in April 1971, Freddie Mac said.

The lower rates also kick-started mortgage refinancing activity. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said refinancing applications totaled about 86 percent of all conventional loans in the first three weeks of 2009. Nothaft said this week’s rise in average mortgage rates followed increases in bond yields.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.8 percent from 4.65 percent last week. The 15-year fixed rate averaged 4.95 percent at this time last year.

Average rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 5.24 percent, their lowest level since the week ending Sept. 8, 2005, Freddie Mac said. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages rose to 4.92 percent from 4.89 percent last week.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee for 30-year, 15-year and one-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 0.7 point for this week. Fees for five-year adjustable rate mortgages averaged sixth-tenths of a point.

Freddie Mac and sibling company Fannie Mae own or guarantee about half of the $11.5 trillion in U.S. outstanding home loan debt. The government seized control of the companies in September.

Source: FAR