Average rate for 30-year fixed mortgages unchanged at 4.37 pct.; 15-year loan rate also steady

By Janna Herron, AP
Thursday, September 23, 2010

Average mortgage rates unchanged at 4.37 pct.

NEW YORK — Rates on 30-year mortgages this week were unchanged from the previous week, staying slightly above the lowest level in decades.

The average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.37 percent, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. Earlier this month, the rate dipped to 4.32 percent, which was the lowest level on records dating back to 1971.

The average rate on 15-year fixed loans also was unchanged at 3.82 percent. That is the lowest on records dating back to 1991.

Rates have fallen since spring as investors poured money into the safety of Treasury bonds, lowering their yield. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.

Treasury yields have fallen again in the past few days after the Federal Reserve this week offered a dim view of the economy and left the door open for more steps to stimulate the economy.

Rates had begun to rise in the last two weeks after recent data gave hope to investors that the economy is better than expected. That prompted some to shift their money out of the bond market and into stocks.

Still, historically low rates have done little to boost the struggling housing market. Sales of previously occupied homes rose 7.6 percent in August, but to the second-worst level in 15 years, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

Would-be buyers remain sidelined because of job uncertainty, falling home prices and tough credit standards. Two government tax credits helped buoy home sales this spring until they expired at the end of April.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders around the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day.

Rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.54 percent, down from 3.55 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages rose to an average of 3.46 percent from 3.4 percent.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 a point for 30-year, 15-year and 1-year mortgages. The average fee was 0.6 of a point for 5-year mortgages.

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