Rates on 30-year mortgages stayed below 5 percent this week but remained above the record set earlier this year, Freddie Mac said Thursday.
The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.83 percent, down from 4.91 percent last week, the mortgage company said. Last year at this time, 30-year mortgages averaged 6.04 percent.
Rates hit a record low of 4.78 percent in the spring, and remain attractive for people looking to buy a home or refinance their existing mortgage. Still, credit standards remain tough, so the best rates usually are available only to borrowers with solid credit and a 20 percent down payment.
The Federal Reserve has pumped $1.25 trillion into mortgage-backed securities to try to lower rates on mortgages and loosen credit. Rates on 30-year mortgages traditionally track yields on long-term government debt.
Low fixed rates in the third quarter led to about $1.1 trillion in refinancing activity, saving borrowers about $10 billion in monthly payments over the first 12 months of their new loan, said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's chief economist.
Freddie Mac collects mortgage rates on Monday through Wednesday of each week from lenders around the country. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a given day, frequently in line with long-term Treasury bonds.
The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.32 percent from 4.36 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac.
Rates on five-year, adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 4.25 percent, down from last week's 4.29 percent. Rates on one-year, adjustable-rate mortgages declined to 4.35 percent from 4.46 percent.
The rates do not include add-on fees known as points. The nationwide fee for loans in Freddie Mac's survey averaged 0.7 point for 30-year loans. The fee averaged 0.6 point for 15-year, five-year and one-year loans.