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Freddie Mac: 30-year mortgage rate remains just under 4%

April 05, 2012|By E. Scott Reckard
  • The McLean, Va., headquarters of Freddie Mac, which says mortgage rates have leveled off at about 4%.
The McLean, Va., headquarters of Freddie Mac, which says mortgage rates… (Freddie Mac )

The typical rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage remained just below 4% this week, continuing a recent holding pattern at about that level, home lending giant Freddie Mac said in its latest weekly survey.

Freddie Mac's report on lender offering rates, released Thursday morning, showed the 30-year loan averaged 3.98%, statistically unchanged from the 3.99% recorded last week.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate home loan was 3.21%, down from 3.23% in the previous weekly report.

Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the nation each week to determine what they are offering to borrowers with good credit and 20% down payments or 20% equity in their homes in the case of refinance loans.

The borrowers in Thursday's survey would have paid 0.7% of the loan amount in lender fees and discount points to obtain a home loan. Solid borrowers who shop around or pay additional points upfront often can obtain slightly better rates than those in the Freddie Mac survey.

The higher rates charged for more expensive jumbo mortgages, which are common in California, held steady at an average 4.77%, according to a separate Bankrate.com survey using a slightly different methodology.

The definition of a jumbo loan varies by region, but is at least $417,000 for a one-unit residential property. In more expensive regions of California, including L.A. and Orange counties, Freddie and its sister company Fannie Mae define loans above $625,500 as jumbos.

A survey this week by the Mortgage Bankers Assn. found that applications for new home loans last week increased about 5% compared to the previous week.

In an encouraging sign for the housing market,  applications to buy (as opposed to refinance) homes are now running about 10% above last year’s level, said Michael Fratantoni, an economist for the trade group.

Demand for mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration was especially high as the month of March ended, since premiums for FHA insurance were increased this month.

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