Average US 30-year mortgage rate falls to 3.89 percent

new home; sold sign; real estate
FILE - This June 4, 2015, file photo, shows a sign indicating a site has been sold in a new home development in Nashville, Tenn. One week after the Federal Reserve raised short-term interest rates from record lows, the average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage went the other way: It dipped to 3.96 percent from 3.97 percent last week, mortgage giant Freddie Mac said, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Long-term U.S. mortgage rates fell this week, as the benchmark 30-year rate declined for the fourth straight week to its lowest level in nearly seven months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate home loans dropped to 3.89 percent from 3.94 percent last week. The rate stood at 3.60 percent a year ago and averaged 3.65 percent in 2016, the lowest level in records dating to 1971.

The rate on 15-year mortgages eased to 3.16 percent from 3.19 percent.

Mortgage rates often track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Prices for the key bond rose last week, pushing down its yield. The yield was at 2.18 percent Wednesday, down from 2.21 percent a week earlier. It rose back to 2.21 percent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country between Monday and Wednesday each week. The average doesn’t include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged this week at 0.5 point. The fee on 15-year loans also head steady at 0.5 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year loans remained at 3.11 percent. The fee rose to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.

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