Long-term mortgage rates ended the week mixed, Freddie Mac reported today, with the 30-year fixed-rate average sinking slightly.

The average rate on 30-year fixed loans dipped to 6.05 percent from 6.06 percent one week ago, and averaged 6.21 percent a year ago, according to Freddie Mac. The average rate on 15-year fixed loans edged up from 5.59 percent to 5.6 percent, still below the 5.92 percent average reported this time last year.

To qualify for these rates, borrowers must pay points, or fees that lenders charge for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, which this week averaged 0.3 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

"Despite a weak housing market, mortgage rates remained almost unchanged this week based on better-than-expected economic data releases that indicated the economy still has some staying power," Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a statement. "Job losses lessened in April and conditions in both the manufacturing and service industry outperformed market forecasts. Worker productivity also rose in the first quarter as increases in labor costs diminished.

"The housing market is still struggling amid falling house prices and stricter lending standards. Coupled with higher delinquency and foreclosure rates, a smaller share of families own their homes this year. The national home-ownership rate held at 67.8 percent in the first quarter of 2008, down from its recent peak of 69 percent in the third quarter of 2006 and was the lowest rate since 67.6 percent in the second quarter of 2002, according to the Census Bureau."

Rates on Treasury-indexed adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were also mixed this week, Freddie Mac reported, with the five-year hybrid ARM sinking to an average 5.67 percent from 5.73 percent last week and the one-year ARM holding steady at 5.29 percent — unchanged from the last two weeks. Points paid on the five- and one-year loans averaged 0.5 and 0.6, respectively.

A year ago, rates on the five- and one-year ARMs averaged 5.92 percent and 5.48 percent, respectively.


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