Rates on 30-year mortgages declined this week after increasing for six consecutive weeks.
In its weekly survey, mortgage giant Freddie Mac reported Thursday that rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell to 5.80 percent, down from last week's 5.89 percent, which had been the highest level in four months.
Analysts said the small decline reflected an assessment in financial markets that such factors as surging energy prices might dampen economic growth a bit going forward.
"Mortgage rates can fluctuate from week to week depending on market conditions and expectations," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.
He said conditions remained positive for the red-hot housing market to continue at high levels of sales activity in the months ahead.
"Long-term mortgage rates are at about the same low level they were at this time last year, so it isn't surprising that the housing industry continues to thrive," Nothaft said.
Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, a popular choice for refinancing a home mortgage, averaged 5.40 percent this week, down from 5.47 percent last week.
Bucking the downward trend, rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages edged up, to 4.58 percent, from 4.57 percent last week. Both levels were the highest for one-year ARMs in more than three years, since they averaged 4.66 percent in mid-July 2002. Rates on five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.34 percent this week, down from 5.40 percent last week.
The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. Both the 30-year and 15-year mortgages carried an average fee of 0.5 point this week. Five-year mortgages carried an average fee of 0.6 point while one-year ARMs had a fee of 0.7 point.
A year ago, 30-year mortgages averaged 5.81 percent, 15-year mortgages were at 5.19 percent and one-year ARMs averaged 4.01 percent. Freddie Mac does not have historical data on the five-year ARM, which it began tracking this year.
AWARDS . . . Mimi Kress, Richard Mandell and Philip Leibovitz of Sandy Spring Builders in Bethesda have been named Pacesetter Award winners for 2005 by Custom Home magazine. The awards recognize outstanding custom-home builders chosen among six categories: customer service, design, innovation, management, production and marketing techniques.
EVENTS . . . Manna, 868 Evarts St. NE, Washington, is hosting free home-buying seminars for District residents on Thursday and Aug. 27 at Sponsored by Home Depot and CitiMortgage, "Pathways to Home Ownership" details steps toward home ownership, including the players and their roles in the home-buying process, plus financial review and credit status, and includes home-improvement demonstrations. Thursday's session will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., the Aug. 27 session from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration is required. 866-241-5122.
Send realty announcements by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax to 202-334-5059 or by mail to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, Attention: Business News/Real Estate Notes.