Average long-term US mortgage rate slips again

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate edged lower for the second time in as many weeks, though it remains more than double what it was a year ago —- a significant hurdle for many would-be homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Wednesday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell to 6.58% from 6.61% last week.

A year ago the average rate was 3.1%.

The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with those refinancing their homes, fell to 5.90% from 5.98% last week.

Late last month, the average long-term U.S. mortgage rate breached 7% for the first time since 2002.

The trend is driving adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, to the highest usage in over a decade. Another popular strategy: buying down the rate on a 30-year mortgage for the first two or three years, which can make monthly payments more manageable -— something both homebuilders and homeowners are offering to entice buyers as the housing market slows.

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