Mortgage rates plumb new depths in this week's survey, with Fed poised to push them lower

Five colorful houses in graduated sizes

All of the major types of mortgages we track are at record lows this week, and the Federal Reserve appears ready to push them down even further this fall.

The average cost of 30-year, 15-year and jumbo fixed-rate loans all fell to new all-time lows in our new survey of major lenders.

That means they've never been cheaper since and its print predecessors began our weekly survey in 1985.

The average cost of a five-year, adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) returned to the record low it reached a couple of weeks ago.

The Fed's most influential policy-setting committee is expected to try and push long-term interest rates even lower when it meets next Tuesday and Wednesday.

It's expected to do that by selling some of the short-term debt on its $2.8-trillion balance sheet and buying more long-term debt.

Officials hope that lower interest rates will encourage more of us to refinance our homes, although home loans cost so little today that it's hard to imagine how much more encouragement we need.

Our Sept. 14 survey found the average interest rate for a:

30-year, fixed-rate loan fell to 4.32% from 4.35% the previous week. It cost 4.54% about this time last year.

15-year, fixed-rate loan dropped from 3.48% last week to 3.44%. This type of loan cost 4.00% in mid-September 2010.

30-year, fixed-rate jumbo loan -- mortgages that exceed $417,000 to $729,750, depending on the city -- declined to 4.83% from 4.86% last week. Last year, it cost 5.19%.

5/1 ARM -- home loans on which the initial interest rate remains fixed for the first five years and then changes once a year after that – fell to 3.07% from 3.10%. The average rate at this time in 2010 was 3.78%.

Our database of mortgage rates can help you find the best deals in your area, including many that are less costly than the national averages.

You can use our calculator to determine the monthly payments for the exact amount you want to borrow with this or any home loan.

It will also provide a month-by-month amortization schedule that shows how much you've reduced your debt and how much you still owe.

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