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Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates stuck in low at 4%

December 1, 2011 |  7:45 am

GeithnerMortgagesJasonReedRTR
The mortgage engine seems stuck in low.

For five straight weeks, Freddie Mac's survey of the rates offered by home lenders has averaged at or below 4% for 30-year loans.

The most recent Freddie survey came out Thursday at an even 4% -- a level that would have seemed hallucinatory not so long ago, before the Federal Reserve pulled out the interest-rate stops to support to the economy.

The 15-year fixed loan, at an average of 3.3%, also remains in record low territory, and Freddie Mac said the start rates on adjustable mortgages have dipped to all-time lows.

Something else also appears to be lower, though, despite the record rates: desire for new home loans.

A Mortgage Bankers Assn. count of applications showed an 11.7% decrease last week even after adjusting for seasonal factors such as the Thanksgiving holiday. The previous MBA weekly survey had also shown a decline as the latest wave of refinancings begins to subside.

A Fed report this week on regional economic conditions described residential real estate markets as generally sluggish. But the report also said the economy expanded at a moderate pace in 11 of the Fed's 12 Districts -- a fact that provided encouragement to Freddie Mac economist Frank Nothaft.

"The extraordinarily low mortgage rates of the past month may provide a needed spur to housing activity," Nothaft said, hopefully, in the latest Freddie Mac release.

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File photo: The troubled mortgage business concerns Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Credit: Reuters / Jason Reed

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