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U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall With 30-Year Average at 4.28%

March 6 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. mortgage rates for 30-year loans fell for the first time in four weeks, decreasing borrowing costs for homebuyers as the recovery in prices stretched into 2014.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.28 percent this week, down from 4.37 percent, Freddie Mac said today. The average 15-year rate slipped to 3.32 percent from 3.39 percent, the McLean, Virginia-based mortgage-finance company said.

U.S. home values continue to rise as buyers compete for a limited supply of properties for sale. Prices climbed 12 percent in January from a year earlier, the 23rd consecutive gain, Irvine, California-based CoreLogic Inc. said this week.

“Prices are still growing at very high rates because the markets are still tight,” Patrick Newport, an economist with IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts, said in an interview yesterday. “We haven’t been building enough homes at high enough rates for five or six years.”

Rising prices and tougher credit standards have shut out some first-time buyers, slowing the pace of the housing recovery. First-timers accounted for 26 percent of purchases in January, down from 30 percent a year earlier and the smallest share in more than five years of data-keeping, according to the National Association of Realtors.

While purchases rose 8.2 percent for residences costing more than $250,000, they fell 10.7 percent for homes worth less, according to the Realtors group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Prashant Gopal in Boston at pgopal2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

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