AP NEWS

US long-term mortgage rates ease; 30-year loan at 3.72%

January 2, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2019, photo a sign stands outside a home for sale in southeast Denver. On Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2019, photo a sign stands outside a home for sale in southeast Denver. On Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. long-term mortgage rates declined slightly this week, remaining close to the historically low levels where they have hovered for the past two months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage eased to 3.72% from 3.74% last week. The benchmark rate stood at 4.51% a year ago.

The average rate on a 15-year mortgage slipped to 3.16% from 3.19%.

More positive economic data and improved housing-market sentiment have brought stability in mortgage rates, Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said. For all of 2019, the 30-year loan averaged 3.9%, the fourth-lowest annual rate since Freddie Mac began tracking it in 1971, according to the company.

Volatile interest rates earlier last year caused a slowdown in the housing market, Khater noted. Low mortgage rates and a strong job market are “setting the stage for a continued rise in home sales and home prices,” he said.

Freddie Mac surveys lenders nationwide between Monday and Wednesday each week to compile its mortgage rate figures. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates.

The average fee on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages remained at 0.7 point this week. The average fee for the 15-year mortgage also held at 0.7 point.

The average rate for a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage rose to 3.46% from 3.45% last week. The fee was unchanged at 0.3 point.