Mortgage rates flirt with record lows again

@CNNMoney March 8, 2012: 11:54 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Mortgage rates dipped into record territory again, with the 15-year fixed-rate falling to its lowest level in 60 years and the 30-year fixed-rate just a tick off its own record.

A popular choice among homeowners looking to refinance, 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.13% last week, down slightly from the record low of 3.14% set in early February, according to Freddie Mac. The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to an average of 3.88%, a mere 0.01 percentage points above its previous record low.

The record low rates have helped make housing as affordable as ever, according to Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist.

"With these historically low rates and declining house prices, the typical family had more than double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home in January," he said.

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, 75.9% of all new and existing homes sold during the three months ended Dec. 31 could have been comfortably purchased by families earning the national median income of $64,200.

Monthly payments for a $200,000 15-year fixed-rate loan at 3.13% come to just $1,394 a month. A year ago, when the industry was marveling at the persistently low mortgage rates, borrowers were happy to get 4.15%, 15-year mortgages. At that rate, they would have been paying $1,494 a month, $100 more than at the current rate levels. To top of page


Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.95%4.01%
15 yr fixed3.10%3.12%
5/1 ARM3.09%3.11%
30 yr refi3.97%4.04%
15 yr refi3.14%3.15%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
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