, On Thursday July 14, 2011, 10:49 am EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fixed mortgage rates fell this week, and the rate on the 15-year loan dropped to its lowest point of the year.

The average rate on the 30-year loan decreased to 4.51 percent from 4.60 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac said Thursday. It reached its yearly low a month ago, at 4.49 percent.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage, popular for refinancing, fell to 3.65 percent from 3.75 percent. Its previous low this year was 3.67 percent, reached three weeks ago.

Rates typically track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Yields fell sharply last week after dismal jobs data pushed investors into the safety of government bonds. Yields fall as prices rise.

Low mortgage rates and depressed home values have done little to revive the struggling housing market. Many people can’t take advantage of the low rates because of tighter lending standards and higher downpayment requirements. Lenders are cautious because the weak economy and high unemployment make it more likely that some borrowers will default.

Other potential homebuyers are holding off, concerned that housing prices will continue to fall.

Few economists expect the housing market to rebound before 2013.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac collects rates from lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week. Rates often fluctuate significantly, even within a single day.

The average rate on a five-year adjustable-rate mortgage edged down to 3.29 percent from 3.30 percent last week. Two weeks ago, it hit 3.25 percent, its lowest level on records dating back to 2005. The average rate on the one-year adjustable loan fell to 2.95 percent, a record low, from 3.01 percent.

The rates do not include extra fees known as points. One point is equal to 1 percent of the total loan amount.

The average fees for the 30-year loans were unchanged at 0.7, according to Freddie Mac’s survey. Average fees for the 15-year fixed loan and the five-year ARM were 0.6. The average fees for the one-year ARM fell to 0.5.

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