US mortgage rates fall to 10-month low; 30-year 4.41 percent

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WASHINGTON (AP) — US long-term mortgage rates fell this week to a 10-month low — welcome news for home buyers before the spring house hunt kicks off.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased from 4.46 percent last week to 4.41 percent. Despite the declines in recent weeks, home borrowing rates are above last year’s levels. The key 30-year rate averaged 4.32 percent a year ago.

The average rate this week for 15-year fixed-rate loans declined from 3.89 percent to 3.84 percent.

Increases in home prices have slowed in many areas of the country, and more properties have come on the market. Those developments, along with historically low mortgage rates, should give a boost to this spring’s home buying season, experts say.

‘‘The US economy remains on solid ground, inflation is contained, and the threat of higher short-term rates is fading from view,’’ said Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater.

The Federal Reserve held its benchmark interest rate steady last week and sent its strongest signal to date that it sees no need to raise rates anytime soon. Its message ignited a rally on Wall Street, which cheered the prospect of continued modest borrowing rates for the near future.

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.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell this week from 0.5 point to 0.4 point. The fee on 15-year mortgages held steady at 0.4 point.

The average rate for five-year adjustable-rate mortgages dropped from 3.96 percent last week to 3.91 percent. The fee was unchanged at 0.3 point.

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