Fixed-rate mortgage rates fell slightly to hit new lows during the week ending July 22, Freddie Mac said in releasing the latest results of its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The survey showed 30-year fixed-rate loans averaging 4.56 percent with 0.7 point, essentially unchanged from last week’s 4.57 percent reading, but down from 5.2 percent a year ago and a new low in records dating to 1971.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also hit a low in records dating to 1991, falling from 4.06 percent last week to 4.03 percent with an average 0.7 point. At this time a year ago, those loans averaged 4.68 percent.

Rates for 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans averaged 3.79 percent with an average of 0.6 point, down from 3.85 percent last week and 4.74 percent a year ago.

Rates on 1-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 3.7 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.74 percent last week and 4.77 percent a year ago.

Rates surveyed by Freddie Mac 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.

Low rates have spawned another wave of refinancings but haven’t spurred home purchases, according to another survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association tracking loan application volume.

The MBA Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 16 showed demand for refinancings up 7.6 percent from a week earlier to the highest level since May 2009.

Requests for refinancings accounted for 79.4 percent of all loan applications, the highest refinance share since April 2009.

Although applications for purchase loans were up 3.4 percent from the previous week, that level still represented a 35.7 decline from a year ago.

The survey showed that demand for conventional purchase loans was essentially flat, while applications for government-backed FHA, VA and UDSA loans were up 8 percent.

The trend was reversed among those seeking refinancings, with applications for conventional loans up 10.7 percent and government refinance applications falling 4.2 percent.

"Refinance borrowers, aiming for the lowest possible rate, are getting conventional loans," said Michael Fratantoni, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, in a press release.

"The strength in purchase applications comes from government loans, likely indicating that prospective buyers are drawn by the lower downpayment requirements."

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