Mortgage rates eased for the fourth consecutive week, hitting historic lows well below 5 percent this week, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.78 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Nov. 25, down from 4.83 percent last week and 5.97 percent a year ago.

The 30-year fixed-rate tied a record low in records dating back to 1971 of 4.78 percent last seen in April as a Federal Reserve program to purchase up to $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae hit full stride.

The Fed had originally planned to wind up those purchases by the end of this year, but has elected to stretch the program out through March 2010 because it had unused capacity. The Mortgage Bankers Association last month projected that 30-year fixed-rate mortgages will hit 5.4 percent next year, 6 percent in 2011, and 6.3 percent in 2012 (see story).

Freddie Mac said 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.29 percent this week with an average 0.6 point, down from 4.32 percent last week and 5.74 percent a year ago.The 15-year FRM has never been this low since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 1991.

The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loan averaged 4.18 percent this week, with an average 0.6 point, down from 4.25 percent last week and 5.86 percent a year ago. The 5-year ARM has never been this low since Freddie Mac started tracking it in 2005.

The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.35 percent this week with an average 0.7 point, unchanged from last week but down from 5.18 percent a year ago. The 1-year ARM has not been this low since the week ending July 7, 2005, when it averaged 4.33 percent.

Those rates are for prime borrowers taking out loans with 20 percent downpayments. Borrowers taking out loans too large or risky for purchase or guarantee by Freddie Mac can expect to pay more.


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