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Mortgage Rates Hold With 30-Year at a Five-Month High

U.S. mortgage rates held steady amid rising demand for housing that’s pushing up prices.

The average 30-year rate was 3.53 percent in the week ended today, unchanged from the previous week and the highest level since September, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate held at 2.77 percent.

U.S. home prices are climbing as buyers compete for a shrinking supply of properties for sale. The strengthening job market and low mortgage rates are giving Americans incentives to make a purchase.

“Affordability is fantastic right now,” Brad Hunter, chief economist at Metrostudy, a real estate research firm, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “A lot of people are coming off the fence.”

Payrolls increased by 157,000 workers in January following a revised 196,000 gain the prior month and a 247,000 jump in November, Labor Department figures showed Feb. 1.

Home prices in 20 U.S. cities jumped 5.5 percent in the 12 months through November, the most in more than six years, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index released Jan. 29.

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