US mortgage rates drop this week 

The Associated Press has reported the average rate on a long-term U.S. home loan is down to the lowest level in five weeks, welcome news for house hunters facing a market constrained by persistently high prices and a near-historic low home inventory. 

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan inched down to 6.35% from 6.39% last week. The average rate a year ago was 5.30%. The average benchmark rate has now decreased over seven of the last nine weeks since reaching a high for this year of 6.73% in early March. 

The average rate on 15-year, fixed-rate mortgages, popular with those refinancing their homes, slipped this week to 5.75% from 5.76% a week earlier. 

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell 22% in the 12 months ended in March, marking eight straight months of annual sales declines of 20% or more, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

Many homeowners who locked in a mortgage rate in 2020 and 2021, when rates averaged below 3%, are reluctant to sell now that rates have since doubled, which is limiting the inventory of homes on the market. The number of homes for sale has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels. 

The dearth of listings has led to a resurgence in homes receiving multiple offers, especially on the most affordably priced properties, and helped keep home prices from falling significantly, despite a housing slump dating back to early last year.