Mortgage rates came down for the third straight week, as the decline in consumer confidence and home prices kept a lid on economic growth, Freddie Mac and Bankrate.com reported today in their weekly surveys.

In Freddie Mac’s survey, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average 6.14 percent this week, down from 6.18 percent a week ago, and is at its lowest level since late January when the rate averaged 6.12 percent, Freddie Mac said.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week approached a 10-month low, as the average fell to 5.87 percent from 5.91 percent last week. It averaged 5.81 percent during the first week of February 2006.

Points, which are fees charged by lenders for loan processing expressed as a percent of the loan, averaged 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 5.95 percent this week, with an average 0.5 point, down from 5.99 percent last week. The one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 5.46 percent, with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 5.49 percent.

“Mortgage rates drifted lower this week, bringing long-term rates to levels below those of this time last year,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. “Mortgage applications for home purchase in November have remained healthy, due largely because of the drop in mortgage rates and a softening in home prices in some areas.”

In Bankrate.com’s survey, mortgage rates fell further this week, with the average 30-year fixed rate now at 6.17 percent, matching a low last seen on Jan. 25. According to Bankrate.com, the 30-year mortgages had an average of 0.3 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage, popular for refinancing, retreated to 5.91 percent, Bankrate.com reported. On larger loans, the average jumbo 30-year fixed rate slid to 6.41 percent. Adjustable-rate loans were mixed, with the average 5/1 ARM dropping from 6.11 percent to 6.01 percent and the average one-year ARM increasing to 5.9 percent.

Bankrate.com said evidence of weaker economic growth helped push mortgage rates lower once again. Weakness in orders for durable goods, consumer confidence and home prices lured investors into bonds as a safe haven amid slower economic growth, sending bond yields — which mortgage rates are tied to — lower. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments on the possibility of resurgent inflation also contributed to lower bond yields, as a vigilant Fed helps quell the inflation fears of bond investors.

Fixed mortgage rates are sharply lower than five months ago, when rates were flirting with 7 percent, according to Bankrate.com. At that time, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate peaked at 6.93 percent, meaning that the monthly payment on a loan of $165,000 was $1,090. With the average 30-year fixed rate now 6.17 percent, the same loan originated today would carry a monthly payment of $1,007.

The following is a sampling of Bankrate.com’s average 30-year-mortgage interest rates this week in some U.S. metropolitan areas:

New York – 6.14 percent with 0.06 point

Los Angeles – 6.23 percent with 0.4 point

Chicago – 6.3 percent with 0.06 point

San Francisco – 6.16 percent with 0.43 point

Philadelphia – 6.06 percent with 0.44 point

Detroit – 6.17 percent with 0.2 point

Boston – 6.32 percent with 0.11 point

Houston – 6.18 percent with 0.46 point

Dallas – 6.16 percent with 0.41 point

Washington, D.C. – 6.06 percent with 0.53 point

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