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fixed_mortgage_rateSource:  Associated Press/Asheville Citizen-Times

WASHINGTON – Long-term US mortgage rates edged higher this week for a second straight week.  They are still near historically low levels to encourage potential homebuyers.  Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.48% from 3.45% the previous week.  The average rate is down sharply from 3.98% a year ago.

The 15-year fixed mortgage rate increased to 2.78% from 2.75% the previous week.

The low rates, along with a solid job market, have been bolstering the housing market as it recovers from the bust that began nine years ago.  Americans bought new homes in June at the fastest pace in more than eight years, the Commerce Dept. reported last Tuesday.

New home sales rose 3.5% last month to a seasonably adjusted rate of 592,000, the best level since February 2008.  Purchases of new homes have climbed 10.1% year-to-date, despite volatile sales on a monthly basis.  Still, the US home ownership rate fell in the second quarter to match the lowest level on record in 1965, the year the US Census Bureau started publishing the figures, according to Census data issued Thursday.  The home ownership rate in the April-June period was 62.9%, down 0.5% from 63.4% in the second quarter of 2015.

SOURCE:  Associated Press/Asheville Citizen Times

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