By ALAN ZIBEL
Mortgage rates dropped to the lowest level on record for the sixth time in seven weeks, offering the most attractive opportunity in decades for those who qualify to refinance or purchase a home.
Government-controlled mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate for 30-year fixed loans this week was 4.49 percent, down from 4.54 percent last week. That's the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed loan dropped to 3.95 percent, down from 4 percent last week and the lowest on record.
Rates have fallen since spring as investors seek the safety of U.S. Treasury bonds. That has lowered the yield on Treasurys. Mortgage rates tend to track those yields.
The last time home loan rates were lower was during the 1950s, when most mortgages lasted just 20 or 25 years.
Low rates have sparked some activity in the weak housing market, but not a massive boom in refinancing.
Applications to refinance loans increased 1.3 percent and those to purchase homes increased 1.5 percent, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.