Bid to lower mortgage rates may fall short

The Federal Reserve’s latest push to revive the economy this week had a key aim: Drive low mortgage rates even lower to strengthen the ailing housing market and help cash-strapped borrowers get out from under higher-interest loans.
But that attempt to throw a lifeline to struggling homeowners faces a stark reality: Despite historically low interest rates, the very people most in need of the kind of relief that could come from refinancing their homes have found it difficult to qualify.
Even as the Fed undertook new measures, a study released by the central bank this week found that tight lending standards and the continuing drop in home prices prevented 2.3 million homeowners from refinancing last year. A combination of high unemployment, strict lending requirements enacted after the financial crisis and the sheer number of borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth continues to thwart many Americans from taking advantage of lower rates.

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