Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fixed-rate mortgages at lowest in almost four years

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.48% for the week ending Jan. 24, down from 5.69% last week, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey. The mortgage averaged 6.25% a year ago; the 30-year hasn't been lower since the week ending March 25, 2004, when it averaged 5.40%.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average 4.95% this week, compared with 5.21% last week. The mortgage averaged 5.98% a year ago; it hasn't been lower since the week ending April 1, 2004, when it averaged 4.84%.

Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 5.13% this week, down from last week's 5.40% average. The ARM averaged 6.00% a year ago; it hasn't been lower since June 30, 2005, when it averaged 5.06%.

And 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.99% this week, down from last week's 5.26%. The ARM averaged 5.49% a year ago; it hasn't been lower since Oct. 27, 2005, when it averaged 4.91%.

To obtain the rates, the 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, as well as the 5-year ARM required payment of an average 0.4 point, while the 1-year ARM required payment of an average 0.6 point. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.

The Freddie Mac survey covers conforming loans, mortgages smaller than the $417,000 limit. A separate survey released by showed that the 30-year fixed-rate jumbo loan, for mortgages above that limit, averaged 6.85% this week, down from 6.98% last week.

"Economic news released last week confirmed the weak condition of the housing market. Housing starts fell further in December to 1.006 million units, the slowest pace since May 1991," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist, in a news release.

"For the year as a whole, housing starts dropped nearly 25%, from 2006's level. This was the largest annual decline since 1980. New permits issued also fell to the lowest level since March 1993."


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