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Mortgage rates mixed, Freddie Mac says; 30-year fixed at 3.37%

December 20, 2012|By E. Scott Reckard
  • A Toll Bros. home under construction this year in Philadelphia.
A Toll Bros. home under construction this year in Philadelphia. (Alex Brandon / Associated…)

Mortgage-rate trends were mixed this week, Freddie Mac said, with lenders offering 30-year fixed-rate loans at an average 3.37%, up from 3.32% a week earlier.

The average for a 15-year fixed loan, a mortgage popular with borrowers refinancing their homes, edged down from 2.66% last week to 2.65%. The start rates for adjustable home loans also were mixed, Freddie Mac said in its latest survey of lenders.

Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s vice president and chief economist, said rates are basically holding steady near their record lows amid a continuing trend of low inflation and a “thriving” home construction market.

The 12-month increase in the core consumer price index has remained between 1.9% and 2.1% for each of the last five months, Nothaft said, with home-builder confidence at the highest level since 2006.

Quiz: How much do you know about mortgages?

Freddie Mac asks lenders across the nation each week about the rates they are offering to borrowers who have solid credit and are putting at least 20% down or have at least 20% equity in their homes if they are refinancing.

The rates are for loans made with minimal payments of fees and discount points to the lenders – an average of 0.7% of the loan amount for the fixed mortgages in the latest survey.

Solid borrowers who shop around often find slightly better rates than those in the survey, and it’s possible to obtain a lower rate by paying higher points up front. The survey does not include third-party charges often paid by borrowers, such as for appraisals and title insurance.

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