Fixed mortgage rates ease, Freddie Mac says; 30-year at 4.51%

A house under construction in Santa Clarita.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Fixed mortgage rates backed off this week from a two-year high, Freddie Mac said Thursday, with lenders offering the 30-year home loan at an average of 4.51% compared with 4.58% a week ago.

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.54%, down from 3.6%, according to Freddie Mac. Starting interest rates for popular types of variable-rate loans were up slightly, the McLean, Va., housing finance giant said.

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Freddie Mac, made a ward of the government during the financial crisis, asks lenders early each week about the terms they are offering to solid borrowers with 20% down payments who pay less than 1% of the mortgage balance in upfront fees and points to the lenders.

Freddie’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, said the market is being driven by speculation about when the Federal Reserve will cut back on its stimulus program, which involves buying $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bonds.

A 13.4% drop in new home sales in July led to speculation that the Fed might delay reducing the bond purchases, Nothaft said. Most analysts had expected the central bank to start cutting back on the purchases in September, reflecting the generally improving economic picture.

US 30 Year Mortgage Rate data by YCharts


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