Mortgage rates eased this week, with rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans falling for only the second time in the last eight weeks, according to a weekly rate survey conducted by Freddie Mac.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.77 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending Jan. 6, down from 4.86 percent last week and 5.09 percent a year ago. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a low in records dating back to 1971 of 4.17 percent during the week ending Nov. 11.

For 15-year fixed-rate loans, rates averaged 4.13 percent with an average 0.8 point, down from 4.2 percent last week and 4.5 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate loan hit a low in records dating back to 1991 of 3.57 percent in November.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rate averaged 3.75 percent this week, with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.77 percent last week and 4.44 percent a year ago. The 5-year ARM hit an all-time low in records dating to 2005 of 3.25 percent in November.

The Mortgage Bankers Association is projecting that rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans will rise to an average of 5.5 percent during the fourth quarter of this year.

The MBA forecasts demand for purchase loans will grow by 30 percent in 2011, to $615 billion, and by another 21 percent in 2012, to $981 billion. But the MBA is projecting that refinancing will drop by 66 percent in 2011, declining from more than $1 trillion in 2010 to $352 billion this year.

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