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Mortgage rates fall to record low

By Holden Lewis ·
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Posted: 9 am ET

Mortgage rates fell to a record low level this week, I explain in the weekly mortgage analysis. In the 25-year history of Bankrate's weekly survey, the 30-year fixed has never been this low. Bankrate's benchmark 30-year fixed dropped below 5 percent for the first time, settling at 4.96 percent.

Mortgage rate records before the mid-1980s are a little sketchy, but I make a case that mortgage rates haven't been this low since October 1956, when Elvis's "Hound Dog" was a hit.

I wish these low rates mattered more, but it looks like few people are buying houses now -- they bought before April 30 to grab a tax credit -- and there aren't a lot of refinancers, either. If you're eligible to refi these days, you've already done it. Everyone else is underwater or unemployed.

This week's Rate Trend Index is a wash. A quarter of the voters think rates will go up in the next week, a quarter say rates will go down, and half predict that rates will remain about the same. I predicted that they'll fall. But I don't have a lot of confidence in that prediction; I've guessed right just 22 times in the last 52 weeks.

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