Weaker signals from the housing markets sent mortgage rates lower for the fifth week in a row, with Freddie Mac reporting that lenders were offering 30-year fixed home loans to solid borrowers at an average of 4.23%, down from 4.32% a week ago.
The rate is the lowest for Freddie Mac’s weekly survey since November, and down from 4.53% at the beginning of the year.
The average for 15-year fixed mortgages fell as well, from 3.4% to 3.33%, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The start rates for variable home loans also fell.
An index of pending home sales fell 8.7% in December to its lowest level since October 2011, Freddie Mac's chief economist, Frank Nothaft, said in announcing the survey results.
"Fixed residential investment negatively contributed to GDP in the fourth quarter for the first time since the third quarter of 2010," Nothaft said.
"Also, the Institute for Supply Management reported a significant slowing in growth in the manufacturing industry in December than the market consensus forecast."
Freddie Mac asks lenders across the country each week about the terms being offered on popular types of home loans to borrowers with good credit scores, 20% down payments and sufficient income and assets to pay their debts.
The borrowers would pay less than 1% in upfront lender fees and discount points. The survey does not include the cost of third-party services that borrowers usually pay for, such as appraisals and title insurance.