The average interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages edged down to 7.52 percent this week, marking the third straight weekly decline.
The average was down from 7.58 percent last week, according to a weekly survey released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the mortgage company.
Mortgages rates, however, had been creeping up for the past two months. So far this year, they have hit a low of 6.74 percent set at the end of January to a high of 7.71 percent set at the beginning of this month.
"Amid signs of a small slowdown in the economy, mortgage rates seem to be stabilizing around 7.5 percent," said Robert Van Order, chief economist for Freddie Mac. "However, after Federal Reserve Chairman [Alan] Greenspan spoke this morning . . . long rates began to rise so we will probably see rates a little higher next week."
In congressional testimony Thursday, Greenspan said the Fed would be "especially alert to inflation risks," raising the specter of additional interest rate increases if the economy shows signs of overheating. On the comments, yields on long-term Treasury bonds rose in the open market.
Fifteen-year mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, also declined in the latest Freddie Mac survey, dropping to an average 7.16 percent this week from 7.19 percent a week earlier.
On one-year adjustable-rate mortgages, lenders were asking an average initial rate of 5.97 percent this week, the same as the previous week.
PERSONNEL . . . Ryland Group Inc. of Columbia elected Robert E. Mellor to its board of directors . . . Centex Construction Co. in Fairfax made the following appointments: Christopher O. Allen, project executive; Peter E. DeVine and John K. Foulkes, project managers; Matt A. Dye and Donald C. Morris Jr., senior project managers . . . William H. Rhoten joined CFM Management in McLean as vice president and manager of the company's new Annapolis office.
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