A home for sale in Huntington Beach. (Bryan Chan, Los Angeles Times)

The cost of getting a home loan has slipped back to the lowest level of the year, with Freddie Mac pegging the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage early this week at 4.12% compared to last week's 4.14%.

The average rate for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.24% compared to 3.27% a week ago, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of what lenders are offering to low-risk borrowers.

Freddie Mac's report, released Thursday morning, showed the start rates for adjustable mortgages edging slightly higher.

Freddie Mac, the big government-sponsored buyer and guarantor of home loans, surveys lenders across the country each Monday through Wednesday morning, asking them about the terms they are offering on loans to solid borrowers with 20% down payments.

The borrowers in this week's survey would have paid 0.6% of the loan amount in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain their loans. Paying higher points can lower the interest rate. 

Fixed mortgage rates, which started the year at 4.5% with expectations they would rise, have surprised economists by falling instead.

This week's 4.12% for a 30-year loan equals the low recorded for a week in May and then for a week in July, Freddie Mac said.

Borrowers with unblemished credit often pay less than the rate Freddie publishes.

For the past month, these borrowers who pay 1% of the loan amount in upfront points have been getting 30-year fixed loans at 3.875% and 15-year fixed mortgages at 3.125%, said Jeff Lazerson at the Mortgage Grader brokerage in Laguna Niguel. 

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