Average US rate on 30-year mortgage falls

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week after three straight weeks of increases. The decline could be a spur to prospective buyers as the spring home buying season gets started.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 3.71 percent from 3.73 percent last week. The benchmark rate is above the 3.69 percent level it marked a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages eased to 2.96 percent from 2.99 percent last week.

After the Federal Reserve’s decision last week to keep a key interest rate unchanged in light of global economic pressures, prices of U.S. government bonds have risen sharply. That has pushed down the yields on the bonds, which mortgage rates follow.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond stood at 1.87 percent Wednesday, down from 1.91 percent a week earlier. The yield declined further to 1.85 percent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of 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 from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year loan also held steady, at 0.4 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year mortgages averaged 2.89 percent this week, down from 2.93 percent last week. The fee remained at 0.5 point.

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