Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week according to data released this morning by Freddie Mac.  The Primary Mortgage Market Survey for the week ended September 17 showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) declined from 5.07 percent with 0.7 point to 5.04 percent with 0.7 point.  This is the lowest the 30-year FRM has been since the week ended May 28 when it averaged 4.91 percent.

The 15-year FRM set a new Freddie Mac record at 4.47 percent with 0.6 point compared to 4.50 percent with 0.7 point the week before.  This is the lowest rate for the 15-year since the company started tracking it in 1991.

We are awaiting clarification from Freddie May about the weekly rate for the Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).  The text of its press release indicated that the average rate had increased, but contradictory numbers showed it unchanged at 4.51 percent with 0.5 point.

One-year Treasury-indexed ARMs averaged 4.58 percent for the week, down 6 basis points from a week earlier.  Fees and points decreased from 0.6 to 0.5 point.

"Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages eased for the third consecutive week and remained at 3-month lows," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac vice president and chief economist. "Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have averaged just above 5 percent through mid-September, which is roughly a percentage point below last year's average and suggests that 2009 may reach a record annual low since the survey began in 1971.

"Low mortgage rates are aiding new home construction.  Housing starts for single family homes have increased consecutively over the five past months ending in July, although starts eased slightly in August.  Moreover, homebuilder confidence improved for the third straight month in September, with all four regions showing positive gains, according the National Association of Home Builders' Housing Market Index."

Fannie Mae's figures on weekly yields for the week ended September 11 were released on Monday.   Those figures showed across-the-board declines in rates.

The conventional 30-year FRM was down 10 basis points to 4.69 from the previous week and the 15-year FRM dropped from 4.17 percent to 4.12 percent.  Government guaranteed (FHA and VA) 30-year FRMs declined from 5.37 percent to 5.3 percent.

One-year ARMs  were down slightly, from 2.98 percent to 2.95 percent.

All Fannie Mae yields are quoted net of servicing fees.