Mortgage rates fell for the fifth straight time this week, sending the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage to its lowest level since February, Freddie Mac reported on Thursday. The 5.78% average on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is down about three-quarters of a percentage point since its decline began last month, Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist, said in a press release.

The average for the week ended Sept. 18 was down 15 basis points from the preceding week and down from 6.34% a year ago, according to Freddie's weekly survey. It has not been lower since the week ended Feb. 14, when it averaged 5.72%. The loan rate hit its low for the year on Jan. 24, at 5.48%.

The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.35%, down from 5.54% the preceding week and 5.98% a year ago.

This rate has not been lower since the week ended March 27, when it averaged 5.34%.

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