Average long-term US mortgage rate falls to 6.42% this week

The average long-term U.S. mortgage fell for the second straight week, which — combined with moderating home prices — could give house hunters a break and the housing market a boost as the spring buying season begins, the Associated Press reported.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell to 6.42% from 6.6% last week. The average rate a year ago was 4.42%.

Last year’s big rise in mortgage rates — which can add hundreds of dollars a month in costs for homebuyers — chilled the housing market. Before surging 14.5% in February, sales of existing homes had fallen for 12 straight months to the slowest pace in more than a dozen years.