<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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Record-low housing mortgage rates: time to refinance or buy?

Wells Fargo home mortgage in Tempe Arizona.
Wells Fargo home mortgage in Tempe Arizona.
Rail Life/flickr

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Amidst a flood of bad economic news, there’s one piece of good news: mortgage rates are at a record low. Last week, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.5%, a record low, while 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 4.32%, the lowest in nine months. In response, refinance applications went up 30% as of the first week of August—the highest level this year. And yet, even with rates so low, people are not buying homes. What is it that’s keeping people from buying homes – high down payments, banks demanding restrictive qualifications, concern about the economy? And will the uptick in refinanced homes improve the situation? Is it a good idea to buy now, and why or why not?


Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com

Elizabeth Weintraub, home buying/selling guide for About.com; full-time broker-associate in the Sacramento office of Lyon Real Estate