Fixed-Mortgage Rates Decline Slightly

By Mia Lamar

Fixed-mortgage rates in the U.S. moved somewhat lower over the past week, returning to near-record lows, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates.

For the week ended Thursday, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.9%, down from 3.95% the previous week and 4.87% a year ago. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.17%, down from 3.19% a week earlier and 4.15% a year ago.

“Fixed mortgage rates bottomed out in January and February of this year, which is helping spur the housing market,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac. For example, an index that tracks contracts to buy previously owned homes rose in January from December to the highest level since April 2010.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARM, averaged 2.83%, up from the 2.8% rate averaged the prior week and down from 3.72% a year ago.

To obtain the rates, 30-year and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages required an average 0.8 point payment. Five-year and one-year adjustable rate mortgages required an average 0.7 point and 0.6 point payment, respectively. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

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