The benchmark U.S. mortgage rate fell this week to its lowest in almost five years, staying below 7% for a record 12 weeks, Freddie Mac reported.

The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 6.82% in the week that ends today from the previous week's 6.92%, according to a weekly survey of mortgage rates by Freddie Mac, the second-largest buyer of U.S. home mortgages.

"Mortgage rates followed the market down this week to exceptionally low levels," said Robert Van Order, the chief economist at Freddie Mac. "This has served to prolong an already incredibly lengthy housing boom."

The average rate on an adjustable-rate mortgage fell to 5.51% this week, from 5.58% the previous week. The 15-year mortgage rate dropped to 6.51%- the lowest in two years-from 6.61%.

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