WASHINGTON – Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, breaking a holding pattern that prevailed for more than a month.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on 30-year, fixed-rate loans declined to 4.10 percent from 4.16 percent last week. The benchmark rate stood at 3.64 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent through 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.
The rate on 15-year mortgages slipped to 3.32 percent from 3.37 percent last week.
Mortgage rates fell at the start of the year after rising for nine straight weeks following President Donald Trump's election in November. Rates have moved little in recent weeks after the initial decline.
The economy has been showing solid gains, but there is uncertainty around the new Trump administration and its economic policies. Federal Reserve policymakers last month decided to leave a key interest rate unchanged. But they discussed the need to raise the rate again "fairly soon," especially if the economy remains strong.
With the economy healthy, the recent trend toward higher mortgage rates hasn't dampened home buying, recent data show. Americans bought existing homes in January at the fastest pace since 2007. That has set off bidding wars that have pushed up prices as the supply of available homes has dwindled to record lows.
To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.
The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged this week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also remained at 0.5 point.
Rates on adjustable five-year loans fell to 3.14 percent from 3.16 percent last week. The fee held at 0.4 point.