Fixed mortgage rates hovered near their record lows this week, Freddie Mac said, with lenders offering the 30-year fixed home loan at an average of 3.34%, down from 3.35% a week ago.
The 15-year fixed loan, popular with refinancers, dropped from 2.65% to 2.64% in Freddie Mac’s survey of lenders, taken Monday through Wednesday. Borrowers would have paid 0.7% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain the rates.
Start rates on variable mortgages edged slightly higher, according to Freddie Mac, which asks lenders about the rates they are offering to borrowers with solid credit and at least 20% down payments.
Rates for 30-year fixed mortgages dropped below 4% in fall 2011 and zig-zagged downward for a year, bottoming out at 3.31% in the Nov. 21 Freddie Mac survey.
A separate survey from the Mortgage Bankers Assn. showed that the seasonaly adjusted pace of applications for new loans slowed in the final weeks of 2012. An index of refinance loans was off by nearly a quarter from mid-December levels, although refinances continued to make up more than four in every five applications.
The low rates are aiding a housing recovery, Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft said in a release announcing the latest survey results.
“New home sales rose in November to a two-year high and were up 15.3% from the previous November,” Nothaft said. “Similarly, pending sales on existing homes increased for the third month in November to the strongest pace since April 2010.”