WASHINGTON – Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages were little changed this week, hovering near historic lows. Cheap mortgages have helped spur a recovery in the housing market.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage edged up to 3.52 percent from 3.51 percent last week. That’s near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage held at 2.76 percent. The record low is 2.63 percent.
The lowest mortgage rates in decades have boosted home sales and helped the market rebound. More people are buying homes, which has helped push up prices. Home prices jumped 9.7 percent in January from a year earlier, according to data released by CoreLogic. That’s the biggest annual gain since April 2006, just before the housing bubble burst.
Historically low rates also have encouraged more people to refinance, often lowering monthly payments and leaving consumers with more spending money.
Still, some people are unable to take advantage of the low mortgage rates, either because they can’t qualify for stricter lending rules or they lack the money for larger down payment requirements.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for 30-year mortgages slipped to 0.7 point from 0.8 point. The fee for 15-year loans also ticked down to 0.7 point from 0.8.
The average rate on a one-year adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 2.63 percent from 2.64 percent last week. The fee for one-year adjustable-rate loans declined to 0.3 point from 0.4.
The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 2.63 percent from 2.61 percent. The fee slipped to 0.5 point from 0.6.