August 14, 2014 at 10:55 am

Average U.S. 30-year mortgage rate at 4.12 percent

A home for sale in Alameda, Calif. (Ben Margot / AP)

Washington — Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates declined this week, approaching their lows for the year.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac said Thursday the nationwide average for a 30-year loan slipped to 4.12 percent from 4.14 percent last week. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, fell to 3.24 percent from 3.27 percent last week.

Mortgage rates are below the levels of a year ago. They have fallen in recent weeks after climbing last summer when the Federal Reserve began talking about reducing the monthly bond purchases it was making to keep long-term borrowing rates low.

Mortgage rates often follow the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. The 10-year note traded at 2.42 percent Wednesday, brushing its low for the year of 2.41 percent and down from 2.47 percent a week earlier. It fell to 2.38 percent in trading Thursday morning.

At 4.12 percent, the rate on a 30-year mortgage is down from 4.53 percent at the start of the year. Rates have fallen even though the Fed has been trimming its monthly bond purchases, which are intended to keep long-term borrowing rates low. The purchases are set to end in October.

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 0.6 point, down from 0.7 point last week. The fee for a 15-year mortgage was unchanged at 0.6 point.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage edged down to 2.97 percent from 2.98 percent. The fee remained at 0.5 point.

For a one-year ARM, the average rate rose to 2.36 percent from 2.35 percent. The fee was stable at 0.5 point.