Mortgage Rates Fall to Record for Seventh Week

Mortgage rates for U.S. home loans fell to a record low for the seventh straight week, aiding a three-month trend of rising applications to refinance.

The average rate of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 4.49 percent, from 4.54 percent last week, McLean, Virginia- based Freddie Mac said. The rates were the lowest in records dating to 1971. The average 15-year rate was 3.95 percent, the company said in a statement.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to refinance if they have the equity to reduce monthly payments,” said Dana Johnson, chief economist at Comerica Inc. in New York.

The Mortgage Bankers Association’s gauge of home loan applications climbed 1.3 percent in the week ended July 30, spurred by low lending rates, the Washington-based group said Wednesday.

The U.S. is struggling to maintain home sales and price gains achieved as the government offered tax credits to property buyers and the Federal Reserve purchased $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed bonds to keep money flowing into the housing market.

Housing starts nationwide fell to an annual pace of 549,000 in June, down 5.8 percent from a year earlier, the Commerce Department reported July 20. New home sales rose in June to an annual pace of 330,000 from May’s record low of 267,000, according to the department.

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