U.S. Mortgage Rates Fall With 15-Year at Lowest on Record

Mortgage rates in the U.S. fell for a fourth week, with the 15-year average hitting a record low, helping to strengthen the housing recovery.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 3.40 percent in the week ended today, down from 3.41 percent, McLean, Virginia-based Freddie Mac said in a statement. The average 15-year rate dropped to 2.61 percent from 2.64 percent.

Buyers competing for a tight supply of available homes are pushing up prices, while low mortgage rates fuel demand. U.S. house prices jumped 7.1 percent in the year through February, the biggest gain since 2006, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said this week.

“The housing recovery does seem to be in place,” Celia Chen, a housing economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc. in West Chester, Pennsylvania, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Purchases of new homes rose 1.5 percent in March from the previous month to a 417,000 annual pace, more than economists estimated, data from the Commerce Department showed this week.

The average 30-year mortgage rate dropped to a record 3.31 percent in November, according to Freddie Mac.

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