April 3, 2009 in Business

Mortgage rates set record for second week

Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Rates on 30-year mortgages fell to the lowest level on record for the second consecutive week after the Federal Reserve launched a new effort to assist the staggering U.S. housing market.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that average rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 4.78 percent this week, from 4.85 percent last week.

It was the lowest in the history of Freddie Mac’s survey, which dates back to 1971. Rates are down by more than a full percentage point from a year ago.

“Mortgage rates followed other interest rates lower this week amid reports of slower economic growth” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist, said in a prepared statement.

Low rates have sparked a surge in refinancing activity. The Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday its weekly application index climbed 3 percent for the week ended March 27, on top of a 30 percent increase a week earlier. Nearly 80 percent of applications came from borrowers seeking to refinance.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.52 percent this week, from 4.58 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.92 percent, compared with 4.96 percent last week. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages fell to 4.75 percent, from 4.85 percent.

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