Average US mortgage rate up for fifth straight week to 6.73%

The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate rose for the fifth straight week to its highest level since breaching 7% in November, just as the spring buying season gets ready to kick off, according to an Associated Press report.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate climbed to 6.73% from 6.65% last week. The average rate a year ago was 3.85%.

The average long-term rate hit 7.08% in the fall — a two-decade high — as the Federal Reserve continued to raise its key lending rate in a bid to cool the economy and quash persistent, four-decade high inflation.

At its first meeting of 2023 in February, the Fed raised its benchmark lending rate by another 25 basis points, its eighth increase in less than a year. That pushed the central bank’s key rate to a range of 4.5% to 4.75%, its highest level in 15 years. Many economists expect at least three more increases before the end of the year.