Freddie Mac's widely watched survey of the mortgage market provided homeowners and would-be home buyers with another round of good news Thursday: A third straight week of falling interest rates has taken the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans below 5% again.
According to Freddie Mac, the rate on that standard mortgage averaged 4.99% this week, down from 5.06% last week and 5.16% a year ago.
Borrowers paid on average 0.7% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees. Many borrowers choose to pay additional "points" to reduce their interest rates; sub-5% rates have remained available in recent weeks for solid borrowers who have chosen that option.
Rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans and adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, also declined this week, according to the survey.
The survey assumes that borrowers have good credit and a down payment of at least 20% or at least 20% home equity.
Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft said fixed loan rates followed bond yields lower for the third week in a row. In falling below 5%, the 30-year rate returned to the level it had occupied for six weeks in November and December.
The survey, taken Monday through Wednesday this week, showed that the rate for a 15-year fixed-rate loan averaged 4.4% with 0.6% in upfront fees, down from 4.45% last week.