Long-term US mortgage rates dip to 3-month lows

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WASHINGTON (AP) — US long-term mortgage rates fell this week to their lowest level in three months, deepening the incentive for prospective home buyer seven though they are facing erroded affordability as prices continue to climb.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined from 3.65 percent last week to 3.6 percent. The benchmark rate stood at 4.45 percent a year ago.

The average rate on a 15-year mortgage eased from 3.09 percent last week to 3.04 percent.

Mortgage rates have shown stability in recent months, buoyed by positive economic data, a strong job market, and improved sentiment in the housing market.

New data released Wednesday showed that US home sales climbed 3.6 percent in December, but a record-low inventory of houses on the market has caused prices to surge. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose last month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million. For all of 2019, 5.34 million homes were sold — matching the 2018 level.

Freddie Mac surveys lenders nationwide between Monday and Wednesday each week to compile its mortgage rate figures. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fees on 15- and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose from 0.7 point last week to 0.8 point.

The average rate for a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage dropped from 3.39 percent last week to 3.28 percent. The fee was unchanged at 0.3 point.

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