Average fixed mortgage rates dipped back below 4 percent on mixed housing news and developments abroad, according to data released Thursday.
In its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, Freddie Mac recorded the average 30-year fixed interest rate at 3.99 percent (0.5 point) for the week ending November 20, just down from an average of 4.01 percent last week. Last year at this time, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.22 percent.
The 15-year FRM also came down, averaging 3.17 percent (0.5 point) compared to 3.20 percent in the last survey.
Adjustable rates came in mixed for the week. According to Freddie Mac, the five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.01 percent (0.5 point) this week, barely down from 3.02 percent a week ago. On the other hand, the one-year ARM averaged 2.44 percent (0.4 point), up from 2.43 percent previously.
"Fixed mortgage rates were slightly down as housing starts declined 2.8 percent in October below the upwardly revised September rate," said Frank Nothaft, VP and chief economist at Freddie Mac. "However, building permits increased 4.8 percent in October after a 2.8 percent boost a month earlier."
International developments may have also played a role. Personal finance site Bankrate.com pointed to a recently announced recession in Japan and the ongoing economic crisis in Europe as driving factors in the latest change.
"With the Japanese and European central banks both cranking up the printing presses in order to drive down interest rates and stimulate their economies, U.S. government bond yields appear significantly higher by comparison," Bankrate said. "As a result, demand among global investors for the safety of U.S. Treasuries remains high, bringing yields lower."
Bankrate recorded declining rates across the board in its own survey, with the 30-year fixed averaging 4.10 percent from last week's 4.13 percent, the 15-year fixed averaging 3.30 percent from 3.32 percent, and the 5/1 ARM averaging 3.21 percent from 3.22 percent.