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Mortgage rates hit 4 percent for the first time in 3 years.

FinanceMortgage rates hit 4 percent for the first time in 3 years.

Mortgage rates topped 4 percent this week for the first time in nearly three years — and are expected to keep climbing.

The rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.16 percent for the week through March 17, the first time it exceeded 4 percent since May 2019, according to Freddie Mac. That was up from 3.85 percent a week earlier and 3.09 percent a year ago.

Rates have been ticking up thanks to a 40-year high in inflation, which the Federal Reserve is attempting to rein in by raising interest rates. On Wednesday, the Fed raised its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point, the first hike since 2018, and it signaled that six more similarly sized increases were on the way.

Mortgage rates don’t move in lock step with the Fed benchmark — they instead track the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds. That figure is influenced by a variety of factors, including the inflation rate, the Fed’s actions and how investors react to them.

“The Federal Reserve raising short-term rates and signaling further increases means mortgage rates should continue to rise over the course of the year,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in a statement.

“While home purchase demand has moderated, it remains competitive due to low existing inventory, suggesting high house price pressures will continue during the spring home-buying season,” he added.

The average rate on 30-year fixed mortgages dropped as low as 2.65 percent in January 2021.

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