WASHINGTON — The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage held steady this week, staying slightly above the lowest level on record. Low mortgage rates have aided a modest housing recovery.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan was unchanged at 3.55 percent. In July, the rate fell to 3.49 percent, the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.
The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing option, slipped to 2.85 percent, down from 2.86 percent last week. That’s above the record low of 2.80 percent.
Cheap mortgages have helped lift the housing market. Sales of new and previously occupied homes are well above last year’s levels. Low rates have also allowed people to refinance, which lowers monthly mortgage payments and helps boosts consumer spending.
Home prices are increasing more consistently this year, largely because the supply of homes has shrunk while sales have risen. And the number of Americans who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth declined in the second quarter.
Still, the housing market has a long way back.