Fixed-rate mortgage rates drop below five percent

Mortgage rates have declined again.Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped this week, going below 5 percent, which is encouraging news for the Houston real estate market, since more people are likely to apply for mortgages and purchase homes.

According to the Freddie Mac's (http://www NULL.freddiemac NULL.com/pmms/release NULL.html?week=8&year=2011) latest weekly survey, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages are averaging 4.95 percent. Last week, the rate was at 5 percent, and a year ago, it was 5.05 percent. The report stated that the Southwest's current FRM is 4.98 percent, which is slightly higher, but could be a welcome sign to prospective buyers of Houston real estate.

"Low mortgage rates and home prices are sustaining affordability in the housing market. Existing home sales rose for the third consecutive month in January and were at the strongest pace in eight months," Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac said, citing a National Association of Realtors report.

According to that report, the Northeast was the only region of the country that sustained a sales decrease during the month of January, as overall sales topped their year-ago levels.

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