Mortgage rates for 30-year U.S. loans lowest since 2013

Detroit News wire services

Mortgage rates for 30-year U.S. loans fell to the lowest level in three years as expectations for the Federal Reserve’s June meeting and Britain’s potential exit from the European Union drove investors to the safety of U.S. bonds.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.54 percent, down from from 3.6 percent last week and the lowest since May 2013, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. The average 15-year rate slipped to 2.81 percent from 2.87 percent, according to the McLean, a Virginia-based mortgage-finance company.

As expected, the Federal Reserve’s policymakers decided at their meeting this week to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.25 percent to 0.50 percent. In their announcement Wednesday, the Fed officials said that while U.S. economic activity continues to strengthen, “the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed,” a reference to employment reports for April and May that were weaker than expected.

“Wednesday’s Fed decision to once again stand pat on rates, as well as growing anticipation of the U.K.’s upcoming European Union referendum will make it difficult for Treasury yields and — more importantly — mortgage rates to substantially rise in the upcoming weeks,” Sean Becketti, chief economist for Freddie Mac, said in the statement.

The average rate for a 30-year mortgage has been below 4 percent since the beginning of the year. Its record low was 3.31 percent, in November 2012.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of 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 from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year loan also was steady at 0.5 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year mortgages averaged 2.74 percent this week, down from 2.82 percent last week. The fee remained at 0.5 percent.

Mortgage lows

Rates on home loans are at their lowest levels in three years:

30-year fixed …3.54%

30-year fixed …2.81%

5-year adjustable …2.74%

Source: Freddie Mac