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Rates for 30-year mortgages drop for fourth straight week

Associated Press

Rates on 30-year mortgages fell for a fourth straight week as investors waited to see what the Federal Reserve will do next week with interest rates.

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of mortgage rates released Thursday showed that rates on 30-year, fixed rate mortgages averaged 5.66 percent for the week ending Jan. 27, down from 5.67 percent a week earlier.

Low mortgage rates have powered sales of both new and existing homes to record highs. The National Association of Realtors reported Tuesday that existing home sales climbed to an all-time high of 6.68 million units last year, the fourth straight year of record sales.

Analysts are forecasting housing will enjoy another good year in 2005 as long as mortgage rates do not rise too sharply under the impact of the Federal Reserve’s credit tightening campaign to make sure inflation stays well contained.

“Until the market gets a better read of how the economy performed at the end of last year and how the Fed interprets that information, interest rates will likely remain calm,” said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Fed policy-makers will hold their first meeting of 2005 next Tuesday and Wednesday and it is widely expected they will increase a key short-term rate for the sixth time since last June, moving it up by another quarter-point.

Rates on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, a popular option for refinancing, dipped this week to 5.14 percent, down from 5.15 percent last week. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages were 4.18 percent this week, up slightly from 4.11 percent last week.

Five-year hybrid adjustable rate mortgages averaged 5.02 percent this week, down from 5.05 percent last week. These hybrid mortgages have a fixed-rate for five years and then they adjust each year after that.

The nationwide averages for mortgage rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The thirty-year, 15-year mortgages and five-year mortgages each carried a 0.6 point fee. The one-year ARM carried a fee of 0.8 point.

A year ago, rates on 30-year mortgages averaged 5.68 percent with 15-year mortgages at 4.97 percent.

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