Mortgage rates ease for third week in a row

MBA survey shows demand for purchase loans still weak

Mortgage rates fell for a third week in a row as turmoil in the Middle East had investors seeking safety in bonds, including those that fund most mortgage loans.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.87 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending March 3, down from 4.95 percent last week and 5.05 percent the week ending Feb. 10, according to a weekly survey by Freddie Mac.

A homebuyer taking out a 30-year fixed-rate loan this week could expect to pay $263 less per year on a $200,000 loan than a borrower taking out a loan at 5.05 percent, said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac chief economist.