Mortgage rates remained virtually unchanged in two weekly surveys this week, but remain low in the closing weeks of the Federal Reserve mortgage-backed securities purchase program. The weekly survey from Freddie Mac (FRE) put the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) at 4.96% with an average 0.7 origination point for the week ending March 18, up 1bp from last week’s average of 4.95%. A year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.98% The Bankrate.com weekly survey of large banks and thrifts put the average rate for a 30-year FRM at 5.07% with a .038 origination point, down 1bp from last week’s average of 5.08%. “Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages were virtually unchanged this week as the effects of the prior storms emerged in recent housing data,” said Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist Frank Nothaft. “New construction slowed by 5.9% in February to 575,000 homes. Both the South and Northeast regions had all the declines due to the snowstorms.” Freddie said the 15-year FRM averaged 4.33% with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 4.32% but still down from last year’s average of 4.61%. Bankrate.com put the 15-year FRM at 4.45% with an average 0.38 point, up from last week’s average of 4.45%. Freddie said the five-year US Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 4.09% with an average 0.6 point this week, up from last week when it averaged 4.05, but down from last year, when it averaged 4.98%. In addition, Freddie said the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 4.12% with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 4.22% and down from last year’s average of 4.91%. Bankrate.com said the five-year ARM averaged 4.46%, down from last week’s average of 4.47%. Write to Austin Kilgore. The author held no relevant investments.