Real extra II 1

A sold placard tops a sale sign outside homes on the market in Denver. Freddie Mac on Sept. 6 reported that U.S. average mortgage rates eked up from the previous week.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates ticked up last week for the second straight week, remaining substantially higher than a year ago amid strength in the economy.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Sept. 6 the average rate on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages rose to 4.54 percent from 4.52 percent. Long-term loan rates have been running at their highest levels in seven years. The average benchmark 30-year rate reached a high this year of 4.66 percent on May 24. By contrast, the rate stood at 3.78 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate loans edged up to 3.99 percent this week from 3.97 percent last week.

Rising home prices, tight inventories of affordable homes and historically higher mortgage rates have dampened home sales despite the strong economy.

Home borrowing costs "may be slowly on the rise again in coming weeks," said Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater. He said the lack of affordable homes "is hindering many interested buyers this fall, even as the robust economy brings them into the market."

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week.

The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year mortgages fell to 0.4 point from 0.5 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages jumped to 3.93 percent from 3.85 percent last week. The fee remained at 0.3 point.

Separately, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate home loan in South Carolina was 4.43 percent as of Sept. 10, up .01 percent from a week earlier, according to Zillow online real estate information firm. The 15-year mortgage was 3.84 percent, up .02 percent from a week before. In the state, the average rate for a five-year ARM was 3.98 percent, unchanged from a week earlier, Zillow reports.