After weeks of edging up, mortgage rates showed a slight decline, according to the latest data released by Freddie Mac on Thursday.
The 30-year fixed-rate average dipped for the first time since Jan. 17, falling to 3.51 percent with an average 0.8 point. It was down from 3.56 percent a week ago and 3.90 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate started the year at 3.34 percent and mostly has been steadily increasing since then.
The 15-year fixed-rate average also ebbed, dropping to 2.76 percent with an average 0.8 point. It was 2.77 percent a week ago and 3.17 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has not been above 3 percent since May 24.
Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages receded, too. The five-year ARM slid to 2.61 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 2.64 percent a week ago and 2.83 percent a year ago.
The one-year ARM fell to 2.64 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.65 percent a week ago and 2.72 percent a year ago.
“Mortgage rates eased somewhat as the consumer price index in February held steady for the second month in a row,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. “House price indicators, however, showed gains in 2012. The Standard and Poor’s/Case-Shiller national home price index rose 7.3 percent last year, reflecting the largest four-quarter growth since the third quarter of 2006. This, in part, was a driving force that pushed up the number of existing and new home sales in February to the highest levels since July 2007 and July 2008, respectively.”
Meanwhile, mortgage applications declined for the third straight week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The Market Composite Index, a measure of loan application volume, fell 3.8 percent from the previous week. The Refinance Index was down 3 percent, while the Purchase Index decreased 5 percent.
The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 77 percent of total applications.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the direction the 30-year fixed-rate average had moved from a year ago. It was down.