Mortgage rates finish year near historic lows


The nation’s average mortgage interest rates are finishing 2011 near all-time historic lows, helping to keep homebuyer affordability high.

The Freddie Mac mortgage market survey showed the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95% for the week ending Thursday, up from the prior week’s average of 3.91%. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.86%.

This week’s 15-year FRM, a popular refinancing choice, averaged 3.24%, up from last week when it averaged 3.21%.A year ago, the average rate for a 15-year FRM was 4.2%.

Five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 2.88% this week, up slightly from 2.85% the prior week and lower than 3.77% a year earlier.

And one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 2.78%, barely rising from last week when it averaged 2.77% but down from 3.26% last year.

“Mortgage rates ended the year hovering near historic lows in an already affordable housing market,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “For instance, the seasonally adjusted S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite home price index in October was the lowest seen since March 2003. The largest hit areas were Las Vegas with the lowest reading since January 1997 and Atlanta which was since June 1998.”

Nothaft said he is not surprised then that more than 5% of households in December plan to purchase a home over the next six months, the highest share since May, referring to data from the The Conference Board.

Bankrate reported the 30-year, FRM rose to 4.21% from 4.2%, while the 15-year, FRM rose to 3.44% from 3.42%, and the 5/1 ARM grew to 3.2% from 3.18%.

Freddie Mac is providing regional and national mortgage rate details and definitions.


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