For the third straight week, long-term mortgage rates inched down, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly mortgage survey.

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.87 percent for the week, down from last week’s 4.95 percent. The rate was 4.97 percent at this time last year.

The 15-year mortgage rate also dipped for the week, averaging 4.15 percent, down from last week’s 4.22 percent.

The 5-year adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.72 percent, which is a drop from last week’s 3.8 percent average.

Mortgage rates saw an overall improvement this week,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Interest rates for 30-year fixed mortgages were almost 0.2 percentage points below this year's high set just three weeks ago.” This means that home buyers can now expect to pay $263 less per year on a $200,000 loan, Nothaft adds.

Source: “30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage Drops for Third Consecutive Week,” Freddie Mac (March 3, 2011)