Long-term mortgage rates this week were mixed, with the 30-year fixed rate falling and the 15-year rate rising, Freddie Mac reported today.

The average rate on 30-year fixed loans dipped from 5.87 percent to 5.85 percent, while the 15-year average rose from 5.27 percent to 5.34 percent. By contrast, a year ago the 30-year averaged 6.16 percent and the 15-year averaged 5.86 percent.

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 0.4 on the 30- and 15-year loans.

"Long-term mortgage rates were mixed, but relatively unchanged in the past week as the latest economic indicators came in much as expected," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, in a news release. "For instance, the index of leading indicators continued to fall for the fifth straight month while consumer confidence reached a 5-year low.

"On the housing front, house prices keep declining across the nation. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index was the most recent to document the drop in prices, reporting a decline of 2.3 percent from December to January in its 10-City Composite Index and a cumulative decline of 11.4 percent from January a year ago. Lower prices improve affordability and the National Association of Realtors reported that its home affordability index was at the highest level in nearly five years, contributing to a pickup in existing-home sales in February."

Average rates on adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) climbed in the latest survey, with five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARMs gaining from 5.56 percent to 5.67 percent and the one-year Treasury-indexed ARMs increasing from 5.15 percent to 5.24 percent. Points paid on these loans averaged 0.6 and 0.5, respectively.


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