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30-year loan rises to 3.32%

– Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages hovered near record lows last week, a trend that has made home buying more affordable and helped the housing market recover.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average rate on 30-year loans edged up to 3.32 percent. That’s close to the previous week’s rate of 3.31 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average on 15-year fixed mortgages ticked up to 2.64 percent from 2.63 percent, also a record low.

The average rate on 30-year loans has been below 4 percent all year. It has fallen farther since the Federal Reserve started buying mortgage bonds in September to encourage more borrowing and spending.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country Monday through Wednesday 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 30-year loans was 0.8 point, up from 0.7 point last week. The fee for 15-year loans was unchanged at 0.6 point.