Industry NewsMortgage

Mortgage rates probing new lows

Banks have stepped up purchase of securities that fund loans

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Mortgage rates hit record lows for a second week in a row as investors -- including banks -- continue to see mortgage-backed securities that fund most mortgage loans as a hedge against economic uncertainty.The Federal Reserve reports that banks are more reluctant to originate mortgages to borrowers with flawed credit than they were in 2006, but are nevertheless stepping up their purchases of loans that have been packaged into mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.83 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending May 10, down from 3.84 percent last week and 4.63 percent a year ago, Freddie Mac said in releasing the results of its weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey. That's a new low in Freddie Mac records dating to 1971.For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, rates averaged 3.05 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 3.07 percent last week and 3.82 percent a year ago. That's a new low in records dati...