Time to buy? Fixed mortgage rates are trending downward

Subdued inflation reports prevent major rate swings

Fixed mortgage rates edged down for the second consecutive week in a row as inflation reports remained subdued.

Freddie Mac made that conclusion in its latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

The 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage came in at an average rate of 4.39%, down from 4.41% a week earlier and up from 3.42% last year. The 15-year, FRM, meanwhile, averaged 3.44%, a drop from 3.45% a week ago, but up from 2.71% last year.

Adjustable rate mortgages had slightly diverse outcomes, with the 5-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage coming in at 3.15%, up from last week when it averaged 3.10% and an increase from 2.67% a year earlier.

On the other hand, the 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM hit 2.54%, down from 2.56% a week earlier and 2.57% last year.

"Mortgage rates were flat to down a little this week amid reports that inflation remains subdued," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist of Freddie Mac. "The Consumer Price Index was up to 0.3 percent in December after being unchanged in November. For the year as a whole, consumer prices rose just 1.5 percent in 2013."

Interest rates reported by Bankrate only posted modest movement this week.

The 30-year, FRM fell to 4.56% from 4.57%, as the 15-year, FRM dipped to 3.61% from 3.62%.

The 5/1 ARM hit 3.42%, up from 3.40%.

"Mortgage rates were quiet this week, but the Fed may disturb the peace of borrowers when it meets next week. If the Fed continues to pull back their bond purchases throughout 2014, which is expected, a steady movement toward higher mortgage rates is likely to happen over the next several months," Bankrate said.    

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