Mortgage Rates Hit New Lows

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4 percent this week, nearly matching the all-time low hit just one month ago. Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year loan dropped to 3.94 percent — the lowest rate ever, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

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The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage four weeks ago, hit a record low of 3.26 percent. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that low rates have failed to increase home buying or mortgage refinancing that government officials had expected. High unemployment and dropping wages have made it harder for many people to qualify for loans. The low rates have caused a modest boom in refinancing, but that benefit might be wearing off. Most people who can afford to refinance have already locked in rates below 5 percent.

“Sales of new homes rose last month after four straight monthly declines. But the increase was largely because builders cut their prices. And it followed a peak buying season that was the worst on records going back nearly 50 years,” according to Yahoo Finance.

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