SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – The benchmark conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate dipped slightly from 4.24 percent to 4.23 percent, according to a national survey. The average 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.37 discount and origination points.

The average 15-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 3.47 percent, while the larger jumbo 30-year fixed rate dropped to 4.74 percent, a new record low. Adjustable rate mortgages rose, with the average 3-year ARM climbing to 3.50 percent and the 5-year ARM rising to 3.20 percent.

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The mortgage world tends to slow down during the holiday season, but that hasn’t been the case this year. While many potential borrowers are traveling and not thinking about their mortgages this week, some lenders say their phones have been ringing nonstop.

It’s not because of a sudden drop in interest rates, as mortgage rates barely changed this week. The buzz comes from hundreds of thousands of borrowers who want to take advantage of the recently revamped Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP.

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The last time mortgage rates were above 6 percent was Nov. 2008. At the time, the average 30-year fixed rate was 6.33 percent, meaning a $200,000 loan would have carried a monthly payment of $1,241.86. With the average rate now 4.23 percent, the monthly payment for the same size loan would be $981.54, a difference of $260.32 per month for anyone refinancing now.

Bankrate’s national mortgage survey is conducted from data provided by the top 10 banks and thrifts in the top 10 markets.

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For the full mortgage Rate Trend Index, visit