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Freddie Mac: Continuously low mortgage rates point to high affordability

Mar 22, 2012 Walt Wojciechowski

Mortgage rates continue to hover around record-lows, reflecting the tepid state of the housing market. Although analysts suspect a recovery is beginning to take hold, it may be years before levels of demand return to pre-recession levels. According to data released last week by Freddie Mac, fixed-rate mortgages are currently at or near their 60-year lows, helping to drive homebuyer affordability but doing little to spark demand. The 15-year fixed averaged a new all-time record low of 3.13 percent last week. Furthermore, the Corelogic National Home Price Index declined for the sixth consecutive month in January to reach the lowest level since early 2003. "With these historically low rates and declining house prices, the typical family had more than double the income needed to purchase a median-priced home in January," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. "This high level of affordability likely contributed to the recent two-week rise ending March 2nd in mortgage applications." Debt collections services have been facing a rise in demand in recent years due to the swelling of consumer credit, but an intensifying regulatory environment has hampered many firms' ability to cull significant revenues.