WASHINGTON — U.S. long-term mortgage rates increased this week, though they remain lower than a year ago in a positive sign for home sales.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose to 4.17% from 4.12% last week and 4.47% a year ago. Average mortgage rates have been trending downward since peaking at nearly 5% in November, helping to increase home sales after a rough 2018.

The average rate this week for 15-year, fixed-rate home loans rose to 3.62% from 3.60%.