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Home Mortgages: Should You Apply Now?

If you're thinking about applying for a new mortgage or refinancing your current mortgage, you might want to take action now.

In its survey this week (the week of Aug. 1), Freddie Mac, the corporation that finances many of the country's mortgages, reported that rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to a nationwide average of 5.82 percent. This represents the fifth week in a row that the rate on fixed-rate mortgages has gone up. This increase put the rate is at its highest since it averaged 5.91 percent for the week ending April 14.

That's the not-so-good news. The good news is that rates on 30-year mortgages are still reasonable and have, in fact, stayed below 6 percent for all but two weeks this year.

This, of course, would be for a new mortgage. If you are thinking of refinancing your current mortgage, you might want to look into a 15-year, fixed rate mortgage. The rates on these mortgages averaged 5.38 percent this week. This compares with an interest rate average of 5.34 percent last week.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist, has said that "Long-term mortgage rates will more than likely rise over the next few months."

Also, the Federal Reserve is expected to continue to increase a key short-term interest rate. It has increased this rate ten times since it began to tighten credit in June of 2004 and is expected to continue to increase this rate.

Keep in mind that the nationwide interest rate averages quoted here do not include add-on fees known as points. Both 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages currently carry an average fee of 0.6 point

Last year at this time, 30-year mortgages had an average interest rate of 5.99 percent and 15-year mortgages were at 5.40 percent. This means that right now, your interest rate on a new mortgage would probably be slightly less than a year ago.

So, if you need a new mortgage or want to refinance your existing mortgage, now could be a pretty good time.

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