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Mortgage rates dip to record lows

SA housing market flat for 2011; shows signs of recovery

SAN ANTONIO - Borrowing money to buy that great American dream may not be easy, but it is downright cheap.

Mortgage rates are in the basement, dipping this week to 3.8 percent on average for a 30-year fixed rate loan and 3.2 percent for a 15-year fixed loan, according to
Freddie Mac.

"Frankly rates are as favorable as they've ever been," said Bob Gardner of Legacy Mutual Mortgage.

Perhaps because rates have been low for many months and consumers who could afford to buy a new house already have,  it does not appear consumers have been
knocking down doors to take advantage of the historically low rates.

Sales of existing homes in San Antonio remained flat last year, according to numbers from San Antonio Board of Realtors.

In 2011, 17,914 existing homes were sold, a number nearly identical to 2010. 2010 figures were inflated due to homebuyer tax credits not available last year, and sales picked up pace in the latter half of 2011.

But Gardner does not attribute the more recent uptick in sales necessarily to attractive mortgage rates.

"People haven't dwelled on this too much, but the employment growth in San Antonio has been very good," he said. "We're seeing a very positive trend in jobs, so that's the primary reason we're seeing recovery both in existing and new home sales."

It is still a buyer's market, though the inventory of homes on the market shows signs that is beginning to shift. As that happens, Gardner said home values will rise.

"I would say they are very good times for the housing market, not to the level of '06 and '07, but better than last year and I think that creates a foundation of solid growth over the next two or three years," Gardner said.


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