30-year mortgage rates dip below 5 percent

First time in four months, average rate on standard fixed is 4.94 percent

Rates on 30-year home loans dropped below 5 percent for the first time in four months, but still remained above this year’s record low, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.94 percent, down from 5.04 percent last week, Freddie Mac said. The last time the 30-year home loan averaged less than 5 percent was the week ending May 28, when it was 4.91 percent.

Rates hit a record low of 4.78 percent hit in the spring, and remain appealing for people interested in buying a home or refinancing.

On Thursday, the National Association of Realtors said the number of signed sales contracts rose for the seventh straight month in August, as homebuyers rushed to take advantage of a tax credit for first-time owners that expires in November.

“Low mortgage rates are helping to stabilize home sales,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

But borrowers may want to consider the Federal Reserve’s announcement last week that it is slowing down a program intended to lower mortgage rates and boost the housing market. Analysts say mortgage rates should remain low for now but could eventually move higher, and homeowners who want to refinance mortgages shouldn’t delay.

Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.36 percent from 4.46 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac. This week’s rate on 15-year mortgages was the lowest since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 1991.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.42 percent, down from 4.51 percent a week earlier. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.49 percent from 4.52 percent last week.

The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac’s survey averaged 0.7 point for 30-year mortgages, and 0.6 point for 15-year and five-year loans. The fee averaged 0.5 point for one-year mortgages.

Source: MSNBC.com

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