The interest rates offered to mortgage borrowers leveled off early this week, with the average 30-year fixed home loan edging down to 4.12% from 4.14% last week, housing finance giant Freddie Mac said.
Lenders were offering the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage to solid borrowers at 3.22%, unchanged from a week ago, Freddie Mac said in its weekly survey, published Thursday morning.
The start rate on hybrid adjustable loans with an initial fixed-rate period of five years was also unchanged, at 2.98%.
That leaves rates about one-eighth of a percentage point lower than a year ago — a surprise to many economists, who had expected they would increase as the economy strengthened, and welcome news for borrowers encountering high home prices.
The rates “should provide some help with home-buyer affordability in many markets,” Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft said in announcing the survey results.
Freddie Mac, which had to be bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis and remains a ward of the government, began issuing its weekly survey of 30-year rates in 1971.
It asks lenders each Monday through Wednesday about the terms they are offering to low-risk borrowers with 20% down payments.
The borrowers would pay about 0.5% of the loan amount to lenders to obtain the loans; costs for third-party services such as appraisals and title insurance, which are often paid by borrowers, are not included.