30-year mortgages hit 4.36%, lowest since 1971

More people refinance, but home sales stuck

August 26, 2010 

Mortgage Rates

Anne Schaeffer fills out a form to receive more information after touring a new home for sale in the Boulevard Heights development Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010, in St. Louis. Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in decades for the ninth time in 10 weeks as concerns grow that the economy is weakening.(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

JEFF ROBERSON — AP

Mortgage rates fell to the lowest level in decades for the ninth time in 10 weeks, as concerns grow that the economy is weakening.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 4.36 percent this week, down from 4.42 percent last week, the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

The average rate on 15-year fixed loans dropped to 3.86 percent from 3.90 percent the previous week, the lowest on records starting in 1991.

Rates have fallen since spring as investors shifted money into the safety of Treasury bonds, lowering their yield.

The low rates have fueled borrowers to refinance their home loans. Refinancing is at its highest level since May 2009 and made up 82.4 percent of all new loan activity.

Low rates haven't budged home sales, however. These are stymied by high unemployment, slow job growth and strict credit standards, and have dropped sharply since the expiration of home-buying tax credits in April.

Average rates on five-year adjustable-rate mortgages were unchanged at 3.56 percent. Rates on one-year adjustable-rate mortgages fell to an average of 3.52 percent from 3.53 percent.

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