Mortgage rates fall for fourth week in a row


(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Mortgage rates wandered downward for the fourth week in a row, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

The data were from the previous week and were not affected by Wednesday’s announcement by the Federal Reserve that it will reduce its stimulus program by $10 billion in February. Last summer, mortgage rates spiked when the Fed was said to be considering winding down its bond-buying program.

The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to its lowest level since late November, falling to 4.32 percent with an average 0.7 point. It was 4.39 percent a week ago and 3.53 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate average has remained below 4.5 percent for the past three weeks.

The 15-year fixed-rate average slid down to 3.4 percent with an average 0.6 point. It was 3.44 percent a week ago and 2.81 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate average has stayed below 3.5 percent since earlier this month.

Hybrid adjustable rate mortgages were mixed. The five-year ARM average sank to 3.12 percent with an average 0.5 point. It was 3.15 percent a week ago and 2.7 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average rose to 2.55 percent with an average 0.4 point. It was 2.54 percent a week ago.

“Mortgage rates eased somewhat as new home sales fell 7 percent in December to a seasonally adjusted pace of 414,000 units, below the consensus,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“The [Standard & Poor]/Case-Shiller 20-city composite house price index declined 0.1 percent for the month of November, the first decrease since November 2012.”

Meanwhile, mortgage applications were flat last week, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The Market Composite Index, a measure of total loan application volume, fell 0.2 percent. The Refinance index dropped 2 percent, while the Purchase Index increased 2 percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity accounted for 62 percent of all applications, sinking to its lowest level in four months.

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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