Fixed mortgage rates sink to seven-month lows after four weeks of declines


(Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Fixed mortgage rates hit seven-month lows last week after four weeks of declines, according to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac.

Mortgage rate chart for May 22

The 30-year fixed-rate average dropped to 4.14 percent, with an average 0.6 point. It was down from 4.2 percent a week ago and 3.59 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed rate hasn’t been this low since late October. Since starting the year at 4.53 percent, it has fallen 39 basis points.

The 15-year fixed-rate average fell to 3.25 percent, with an average 0.5 point, also dipping to its lowest level since late October. It was down from 3.29 percent a week ago and 2.77 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed rate has fallen 30 basis points since the first of the year.

Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages also declined. The five-year ARM average sank to 2.96 percent with an average 0.4 point, falling below 3 percent for the first time this year. It was 3.01 percent a week ago and 2.63 percent a year ago.

The one-year ARM average was unchanged at 2.43 percent with an average 0.4 point for the third week in a row.

“Mortgage rates continued to decline this week as industrial production slipped by 0.6 percent in April, below the market consensus forecast,” Frank E. Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement.

“Meanwhile, housing starts jumped 13 percent in April to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,072,000 units, well above expectations. Permits rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,080,000 in April, also above expectations.”

As rates continued to decline, mortgage applications ticked up for the third week in a row, according to the latest data from the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The market composite index, a measure of total loan application volume, rose 0.9 percent boosted by refinances. The refinance index jumped 4 percent, while the purchase index declined three percent.

The refinance share of mortgage activity grew to 52 percent of all applications.

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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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