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Rates Better Again

Freddie Mac reports average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 4.95%

Feb. 24, 2011

By KENNETH R. GOSSELIN The Hartford Courant - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Conditions improved again for prospective borrowers who are shopping for a loan.

Rates on popular options for home purchases and refinancing eased for the second week in a row, with 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages again falling below 5 percent.

Rates on the 30-year, fixed home loans averaged 4.95 percent, with an average 0.6 point this week, down from 5 percent a week ago, according to the weekly survey by mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

A year ago, 30-year loans -- traditionally favored for home purchases -- averaged 5.05 percent and fell to a record low of 4.17 percent in early November.

The rates on 15-year, fixed-rate residential mortgages also dipped this week, to an average of 4.22 percent, with an average 0.7 point, compared with 4.27 percent a week ago. During the same week in 2010, 15-year, fixed home loans averaged 4.40 percent and plunged to a record low of 3.57 percent in early November.

The rates eased this week amid mixed reports on inflation, according to Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft.

Although the core consumer price index for January rose slightly higher than expected, house prices fell 4.1 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period in 2009, according the S&P Case-Shiller National Index. The index levels were the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2002, indicating continued weakness in the housing market.

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