Fixed mortgage rates fall to 2011 lows

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by Janna Herron

NEW YORK (AP)—Fixed mortgage rates hit the lowest point of the year for the third straight week.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year loan fell to 4.60 percent from 4.61 percent. That’s the lowest point since mid-December. The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinance option, slipped to 3.78 percent from 3.80 percent. That marked the lowest level since late November.

Rates have fallen for six weeks in a row. They tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which crept lower this week on worries over Europe’s ongoing debt crisis.

While low mortgage rates make purchasing a home more attractive, sales are still slumping. Sales of new homes rose in April from the previous month, but are down almost a quarter from last year, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. And the number of people buying previously occupied homes is well below what economists consider healthy, despite an uptick in activity in April.

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

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 3.41 percent from 3.48 percent. The five-year adjustable-rate loan hit 3.25 percent last month, the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.

The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate loan also decreased to 3.11 percent from 3.15 percent. That matched the lowest level in the last year.

The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The average fee for the 30-year fixed loan and 15-year fixed loan in Freddie Mac’s survey was 0.7 point. The average fee for the five-year ARM and the 1-year ARM was 0.5 point.

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