The average contract mortgage rate for the purchase of a previously occupied home by combined lenders continued to rise, reaching a 3.54% index rate for March 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced.

The index is used in some adjustable-rate mortgage contracts and is up 0.11% from last month and up 0.19% from January.

Additionally, the average interest rate on conventional, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage loans climbed to 3.74% in March, reflecting loans closed from March 25 to March 31.

The contract rate on the composite of all mortgage loans was 3.53%, soaring from 3.42% in February.

Meanwhile, the average loan-to-price ratio was 77.3%, and the average loan amount came in at $263,400, increasing $4,700 from $258,700 last month.