The nation's average mortgage interest rates rose from their near-record lows for the first time in three weeks amid recent data showing the housing market improving. 

The Freddie Mac survey showed the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95% for the week ending Thursday, up from the prior week's average of 3.87%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.95%.

The 15-year, fixed-rate home loan, a popular refinancing choice, averaged 3.19%, up from last week when it averaged 3.16%. A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 4.22%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.8% this week, down slightly from 2.82% the prior week and lower than 3.8% a year earlier.

And one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.73%, falling from last week when it averaged 2.84% and down from 3.4% last year.

“New data released this week suggest the housing market is continuing to gradually improve," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. "Loans that were seriously delinquent fell to 5.3% of prime mortgages at the end of 2011, representing the lowest quarterly share since the start of 2009, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association."

Nothaft cited the Census Bureau report that new residential construction starts in January outpaced the market consensus forecast, led by condominiums and apartment buildings, and December’s figures had upward revisions. Existing home sales in January were the strongest since May 2010, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home loan analytics firm Bankrate reported the 30-year, FRM rose to 4.16% from 4.1%, while the 15-year, FRM rose to 3.38% from 3.35%, and the 5/1 ARM rose to 3.12% from 3.03%.

jhilley@housingwire.com