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Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows

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Wed, May 23, 2012 at 6:50PM

Buying a home just got even cheaper as interest rates on both 30-year and 15-year-fixed-rate mortgages set record lows for the third week in a row.

The 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular mortgage product, dipped by 0.04 percentage points to 3.79%, according to a weekly survey by Freddie Mac. Last year, 30-year loans averaged 4.64%. The new low can save borrowers $50 a month for every $100,000 borrowed. Over a 30-year term, that comes to $21,874.

The 15-year fixed mortgage, which is popular among those looking to refinance, inched down 0.01 percentage points to 3.04%, according to Freddie Mac's survey. That's down from 3.82% a year ago. The new 15-year rate would lower borrowing costs to $693 a month for every $100,000 borrowed, a $38 savings compared to last year.

Ongoing economic turmoil in Europe is, in part, responsible for the continued slide in mortgage rates, according to Freddie Mac's chief economist, Frank Nothaft.

"The European debt crisis overshadowed improving economic indicators for the U.S. and allowed Treasury bond yields and fixed mortgage rates to ease for another week," he said.

As for economic conditions here in the U.S., Nothaft pointed to recent reports that showed improvements in industrial production, consumer sentiment and new home construction.

Affordable mortgages, combined with much lower home prices, should also help to bolster the housing market.

Rates are almost half what they were at the peak of the housing bubble in mid-2006. At the time, the median price of a U.S. home was about $250,000, according to the National Association of Home Builders, and the average interest rate was about 6.75% for a 30-year loan.

A person who bought a home in 2006 with 20% down would have made payments of $1,300 a month. Today, a person who buys a median priced of home of about $162,000, would pay less than half that amount, about $600 a month.  


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