30-year fixed mortgage rates dip below 5% again

The rate, which has hovered around that mark since September, fell to 4.97% this week from 5.05% last week.

By E. Scott Reckard, LA TimesMarch 5, 2010

The typical rate offered by lenders on 30-year mortgages slipped back below 5% this week, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The mortgage giant’s weekly survey found that the average rate available on 30-year fixed-rate loans fell to 4.97%, down from 5.05% last week, with an average of 0.7% of the loan balance paid in upfront fees known as points.

The 30-year rate has bumped around the 5% level since September, falling to a record low of 4.71% in a Freddie survey in December. This year it has been above 5% in six of the weekly surveys and below seven times.

Not since the 1950s have rates remained so low for so long, said Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com, citing data from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The historically low rates have been engineered by the federal government in response to the deep recession.

Freddie Mac’s survey, conducted Monday through Wednesday, asks lenders to report for each loan type the interest rate they are offering, along with the points they are charging for that rate, for borrowers with good credit and at least a 20% down payment or home equity.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage this week averaged 4.33% with an average of 0.7% in points, down from 4.4% a week ago.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate loan, which has a fixed rate for the first five years, averaged 4.11% with 0.6% of the loan balance in points. The rate averaged 4.16% a week earlier.

Mortgage professionals say well-qualified borrowers often negotiate slightly better deals than lenders’ reported offering rates.

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