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Mortgage rates level off near record low, Freddie Mac says

November 29, 2012|By E. Scott Reckard
  • Freddie Mac's corporate offices in McLean, Va.
Freddie Mac's corporate offices in McLean, Va. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais…)

Mortgage interest rates edged up a hair from their record lows this week, with lenders offering the 30-year fixed loan at an average of 3.32%, Freddie Mac said in its latest survey.

Borrowers would have paid an average of 0.8% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain the rate, Freddie Mac said. That was up from an average 0.7% in lender charges for a 3.31% 30-year loan in last week's survey, the latest in a long series of record lows set this year.

The 15-year fixed mortgage, popular with refinancers seeking to pay off their loans faster, was being offered this week at an average 2.64% and 0.6% in lender fees, up from 2.63% and 0.6% in fees a week earlier.

Start rates for adjustable loans also were little changed, although few people would opt for a variable rate at this peculiar point in time. The start rate for a hybrid loan that becomes variable after five years fixed was 2.72% -- higher than that of the 15-year fixed mortgage.

Quiz: How much do you know about mortgages?

Concerns about the so-called fiscal cliff have depressed interest rates as demand increased for ultra-safe Treasury securities and insured mortgage bonds from Freddie Mac and other government-backed issuers, Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft noted.

The yield, or effective interest rate, declines on bonds when demand rises. 

Freddie Mac asks mortgage lenders around the country each Monday through Wednesday about popular combinations of rates and points they are offering to low-risk borrowers. The survey doesn't include third-party charges often paid by borrowers, such as for title insurance and appraisals.

Mortgage pros say solid borrowers often can find somewhat lower rates than those in the survey by shopping around.

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