Fixed mortgage rates have fallen for a fifth consecutive week, reaching their lowest levels in seven months, according to today's Freddie Mac weekly rate survey.

Average interest rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages edged down to 4.12 percent this week, while the average on 15-year fixed-rate loans dropped to 3.21 percent. Both are the lowest either rate has been since late October.

Five weeks ago, the two rates were averaging 4.33 percent and 3.39 percent, respectively. The current rates include an average of 0.6 points in discounts and fees for 30-year loans, and 0.5 points for 15-year mortgages.

The gradual decline in rates has seen a modest increase in refinance demand during that period, though applications were down slightly last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Last week, the two rates averaged 4.14 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively. Five-year adjustable-rate mortgages were unchanged at 2.96 percent with 0.3 points in fees and discounts.

Few signs of spring housing thaw

The news comes on the heels of signs that the housing market remains weaker than expected now that the spring buying season is underway. Existing home sales in April showed an increase of only 1.3 percent over March, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), contrary to expectations that the end of the harsh winter weather would release pent-up demand. On an annual basis, sales were down 6.8 percent last month from their April 2013 level.

New home demand showed a stronger monthly increase of 6.4 percent in April but was still down 5.3 percent from its April 2013 levels, according to Census Department figures released last week.

Published on May 29, 2014