NEW YORK – Rates on fixed mortgages dipped this week after rising steadily over the last two months.
Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year mortgage dropped to 4.77 percent from 4.86 percent the previous week. It hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November.
The average rate on the 15-year loan slipped to 4.13 percent from 4.20 percent. It reached 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records starting in 1991.
Rates have been rising since November. Investors have shifted money out of Treasurys and into stocks. Many expect the tax-cut plan will fuel economic growth and increase inflation. Yields tend to rise on inflation fears.
Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Those rates have been fluctuating in recent weeks.
Low mortgage rates did little to boost home sales last year and higher rates now could hamper a robust recovery.
The number of borrowers who applied for a mortgage in December was 10 percent below the same month in 2009, according to Capital Economics. Refinance activity has dropped off 44 percent since rates hit their lows. The number of purchase applications has been rising along with sales, but last year's sales pace was shaping up to be the slowest in 13 years.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.
The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage slipped to 3.75 percent from 3.77 percent. The five-year hit 3.25 percent last month, the lowest rate on records dating back to January 2005.
The average rate on one-year adjustable-rate home loans fell to 3.24 percent from 3.26 percent.
The rates do not include add-on fees, known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount. The average fee for the 30-year and 15-year loans in Freddie Mac's survey was 0.8 point. The average fee for the five-year ARM was 0.7 point, and the fee for the 1-year ARM was 0.6 point.
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