Mortgage rates surveyed by Freddie Mac bounced back from historic lows this week, but aren't expected to soar in the New Year.
Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.95 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending Dec. 29. That's up from 3.91 percent last week -- an all-time low in records dating to 1971 -- but still well below the 2011 high of 5.05 percent seen in February.
The 30-year fixed-rate loan has averaged at or below 4 percent for the past nine consecutive weeks, Freddie Mac noted in releasing the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey.
Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.24 percent with an average 0.8 point. That's up from 3.21 percent last week, an all-time low in records dating to 1991, but down from the 2011 high of 4.29 percent registered in February.
For 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, rates averaged 2.88 percent with an average 0.6 point. That's up from 2.85 percent last week, an all-time low in records dating to 2005, but down more than 1 percentage point from the 2011 high of 3.92 percent seen in February.
Rates on 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM loans averaged 2.78 percent with an average 0.6 point. That's up from 2.77 percent last week, an all-time low in records dating to 1984, but down from a 2011 high of 3.4 percent in February.
Freddie Mac's rate survey is based on loans offered to borrowers with good credit scores who will be making down payments of at least 20 percent. Borrowers with damaged credit or making smaller down payments can expect to pay higher rates.
Mortgage rates are largely determined by demand for mortgage-backed securities (MBS), bonds that fund the vast majority of home loans.
The Federal Reserve helped push mortgage rates down in 2009 and 2010 by buying $1.25 trillion in MBS. Since then, the European debt crisis has helped keep mortgage rates down, as investors seek the relative safety of government-backed mortgage bonds, whose payments are guaranteed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae.
In a Dec. 20 forecast, economists at Fannie Mae project that rates for fixed-rate mortgages will average 4.0 percent in 2012 and 4.3 percent in 2013, down from 4.5 percent this year and 5 percent in 2009.
The Mortgage Bankers Association predicts rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans will average 4.2 percent in 2012 before rising to 4.7 percent in 2013. The National Association of Realtors projects rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans will hold steady at 4.5 percent in 2012.