Mortgage rates increased over the last week — and that could put a damper on the housing market

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Mortgage rates have inched upward. If the trend continues, it could make affordability even more of a roadblock to would-be buyers.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.68% during the week ending Nov. 27, up two basis points from the previous week, Freddie Mac FMCC, -0.39%   reported Thursday. Mortgage rates remain much lower than a year ago. During this same week last year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.81%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged from the previous week at an average of 3.15%, according to Freddie Mac. The 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.43%, rising four basis points from a week ago.

Mortgage rates generally track the direction of the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.79%. After increasing sharply at the beginning of the month, the 10-year Treasury yield has fallen over much of November amid uncertainty about a possible U.S.-China trade deal.

Read more: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac will soon let borrowers take out mortgages over $500K

Mortgage rates have seesawed considerably since the summer, but the trend is generally upward. Over the past two months, mortgage rates have only fallen week-over-week on three occasions.

If that trend continues into the new year, it could make for a rocky start to 2020 for the housing market. The rise in mortgage rates in October contributed to the decline in pending home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors, though the tight inventory of homes for sale likely played a larger role.

Until now, the low mortgage rates of late have received a somewhat muted response from home-buyers, though they have caused an increase in refinancing activity. Even if mortgage rates remain below 4% for the rest of winter, it’s unlikely that would-be home buyers will respond to the low rate environment en masse, reducing the tailwind effects low rates could have.

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