02/26/2015 12:44 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage rises to 3.80 per cent; 15-year rate up to 3.07 per cent

WASHINGTON - Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates have edged up for a third straight week while remaining near their historically low levels reached in May 2013.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year mortgage rose to 3.80 per cent from 3.76 per cent last week.

The rate for the 15-year loan, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, ticked up to 3.07 per cent from 3.05 per cent last week.

A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage stood at 4.37 per cent and the 15-year mortgage at 3.39 per cent. Mortgage rates have remained low even though the Federal Reserve in October ended its monthly bond purchases, which were meant to hold down long-term rates.

In testimony before Congress this week, Fed Chair Janet Yellen made clear that the central bank isn't ready yet to raise rates from record lows. The job market is still healing, and inflation is too low, she said. At the same time, Yellen signalled that the Fed is moving closer to a rate hike by sketching the steps it would take when it deemed the time was right.

A government report issued Wednesday showed that sales of new homes were basically flat in January, evidence that the relatively low mortgage rates and recent job gains have yet to spur the real estate market. Despite the increasingly favourable economy, home sales have been sluggish at the start of the year. Still, many analysts expect that the housing market will gather momentum with the start of the spring buying season.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 per cent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. The fee for a 15-year mortgage also remained at 0.6 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.99 per cent from 2.97 per cent. The fee was stable at 0.5 point.

For a one-year ARM, the average rate slipped to 2.44 per cent from 2.45 per cent. The fee remained at 0.4 point.