Updated: August 30, 2012 3:20PM
WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week and are just slightly above record lows reached earlier this year. The low rates have contributed to a modest housing recovery.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the rate on the 30-year loan declined to 3.59 percent, down from 3.66 percent last week. Five weeks ago, 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 2.86 percent. That’s down from 2.89 percent last week and from the record low of 2.80 percent five weeks ago.
The availability of low rates has lifted home sales this year. Prices also have increased, largely because the supply of homes has shrunk while sales have risen.