int rateEconomists have been declaring for years that mortgage rates were going to rise. Now those predictions seem to be coming true.

As the Federal Reserve contemplates raising its benchmark federal funds rate, home loans are becoming more expensive. Indications are that the days of the 30-year fixed-rate home loan at a rate below 4 percent are gone, if not for good, certainly for a long time.

For the third week in a row, the 30-year fixed-rate average remained above the 4 percent mark, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac. It rose to 4.02 percent with an average 0.7 point this week. (Points are fees paid to a lender equal to 1 percent of the loan amount.) The 30-year fixed rate was 4 percent a week ago and 4.14 percent a year ago.

Although rates are rising, they remain near their all-time lows. The 30-year fixed-rate average hasn’t been above 5 percent since February 2011, and it hasn’t topped 6 percent since November 2008.

The 15-year fixed-rate average dropped to 3.21 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.23 percent a week ago and 3.22 percent a year ago.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also fell. The five-year ARM average edged down to 2.98 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 3 percent a week ago and 2.98 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average slipped to 2.5 percent with an average 0.3 point. It was 2.53 percent a week ago.

“Economic releases confirmed increasing strength in housing,” Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist, said in a statement.

By Kathy Orton at