30-year mortgage falls to 4.12%, record low

Fixed mortgage rates fell this week to the lowest levels in six decades. But few Americans can take advantage of the rates to refinance or buy a home.

The average rate for the 30-year fixed mortgage fell to 4.12 percent, down from 4.22 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday. It’s the lowest level on records dating back to 1971. Freddie Mac said the last time rates were cheaper was 1951, when most long-term home loans lasted just 20 or 25 years.

The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, fell to 3.33 percent from 3.39 percent. That’s the lowest on records dating to 1991 and likely the lowest ever, according to economists.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which fell to an all-time low this week. An uncertain outlook for the U.S. economy has led many investors to shift money out of stocks and into the safety of Treasurys, lowering the yield.

Record-low mortgage rates have done little to energize the depressed housing market.

Over the past year, the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage has been below 5 percent for all but two weeks. That compares with five years ago, when the average 30-year fixed rate was near 6.5 percent.

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