After increasing the past five weeks, fixed mortgage interest rates fell slightly.
However, the average rate is still half a percentage point above where they stood last month and at their highest point since spring.
On Thursday, Freddie Mac announced average interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan fell to 4.81 percent from 4.83 percent a week earlier. In November, the interest rate touched a 40-year low at 4.17 percent, but has increased slightly since then.
For the 15-year mortgage loan, the interest rates fell to 4.15 percent from 4.17 percent a week earlier. That rate had sunk to 3.57 percent in November, the lowest rate since 1991 when records for the 15-year loan began.
Since the first part of November, rates rose slightly, a sign that investors are moving money away from Treasury bonds and into stocks because of a belief that the tax-cut plan recently approved by Congress and President Barack Obama will give the economy a boost and increase inflation. The selling spree comes even while the Federal Reserve is buying up $600 billion in bonds to try to keep interest rates low.
Yields usually rise because of market fears regarding higher inflation. Mortgage rates move with the yield for the 10-year Treasury note.
Yields saw slim variation last week because of the Christmas holiday and short trading week.
Increasing mortgage rates have been one more challenge for the housing market that has lagged the surging stock market. The number of homebuyers hoping to refinance fell for the sixth consecutive week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.