LOW RATES: Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages moved closer to historic lows this week, a trend that has helped drive a rebound in home sales.
THE NUMBERS: The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage declined to 3.51 percent from 3.56 percent last week. That's near the 3.31 percent rate reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971. The average on the 15-year loan slipped to 2.76 percent from 2.77 percent last week. The record low is 2.63 percent.
HOUSING BOOST: The lowest mortgage rates in decades have helped the housing market recover. More people are buying homes, which has pushed up home prices. And ultra-low rates have encouraged more people to refinance.