Mortgage rates

Mortgage rates held steady this week, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac.

The 30-year fixed-rate average edged down to 3.38 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 3.40 percent a week ago and 3.88 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate has remained below 3.5 percent the past 17 weeks. The all-time low was 3.31 percent set Nov. 21.

The 15-year fixed-rate average was unchanged at 2.66 percent with an average 0.7 point. A year ago, it was 3.17 percent. It has not been above 3 percent since May 24.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages also showed little movement. The five-year ARM remained the same as last week at 2.67 percent with an average 0.6 point. The one-year ARM dropped to 2.57 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.60 percent a week ago and 2.74 percent a year ago.

“Mortgage rates were flat to down a little this week amid reports that inflation remains contained,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “The overall producer price index rose 0.1 percent between November and December, below the market consensus forecast, and the consumer price index was unchanged. For the year as a whole, consumer prices rose just 1.7 percent in 2012, almost half that of 2011’s increase of 3 percent.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications continued to rise, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, climbed 15.2 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index increased 15 percent, while the Purchase Index went up 13 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity remained steady at 82 percent of total applications.

Kathy Orton is a reporter and Web editor for the Real Estate section. She covers the Washington metropolitan area housing market.
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