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30-year, fixed-rate mortgage finishes year near record lows

Mortgage rates closed out the year near record lows, keeping home affordability at a significant high as the nation and housing market moves towards an uncertain future in 2013.

While the fiscal cliff and the country's financial issues are impacting overall confidence, mortgage rates continue to foster an affordable housing market.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage hovered at 3.35% for the week ending Dec. 27, down from 3.37% a week earlier and 3.95% last year, according to Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

Overall, fixed-rate mortgages finished the year near all-time lows, the GSE said in its latest interest-rate report.

 "The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.66% for 2012, the lowest annual average in at least 65 years," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist with Freddie Mac.

The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged from last week at 2.65% and is down from 3.24% a year ago.   

In addition, the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid, adjustable-rate mortgage came in at 2.70%, down from 2.71% a week earlier and lower than the 2.88% rate recorded the same time last year.

The 1-year, Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56%, up from a week earlier when it came in at 2.52%, but still down from 2.78% a year ago.   

Having the 30-year, FRM almost 0.6 percentage points lower than it was at the beginning of 2012 translates into interest payment savings of close to $98,600 over the life of a $200,000 mortgage, Nothaft added.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency also reported the national average contract mortgage rate for the purchase of a previously occupied home – an index for ARM loans – reached 3.36% in November.  That is down 0.08% from the prior month.  

The average rate for a conventional, 30-year loan of $417,000 or less declined by 4-basis points to 3.54% in November.

Furthermore, the contract rate on the composite for all fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages hovered at 3.36% in November, down 8-basis points from 3.44% in October, according to the FHFA.

The effective interest rate, which incorporates the amortization of initial fees and charges, came in at 3.49% in November, the FHFA added.

Bankrate data also shows mortgage rates "pulling back" towards the end of the year. The Bankrate 30-year, FRM came in at 3.59%, down from 3.62% a week earlier. The 15-year, FRM also declined to 2.87% from 2.89%, and the 5/1 ARM fell back to 2.77%, a drop from 2.78% a week earlier.

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