The Federal Reserve is going to extraordinary lengths to push down long-term interest rates, including home-mortgage rates. But those hoping mortgage rates will fall sharply from current levels, already historically low, may be disappointed. Mortgage firms Thursday were quoting rates averaging 4.75% on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, according to Zillow.com, a real-estate information service. That is down from more than 5% two days ago and about 6% in mid-November. But further big declines will be hard to achieve, partly because the mortgage-lending market has grown less competitive in the past year as hundreds of small banks and independent mortgage lenders have collapsed. The big banks that dominate the market are eager to boost their profits margins, not give deeper bargains to consumers.
By James R. Hagerty, March 20 2009, WSJ

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