STEADY RATES: The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was unchanged at 3.53 percent for a second week, remaining near historic lows. The average rate on the 15-year mortgage also held steady at 2.77 percent, according the mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.
STILL LOW: Cheap mortgages are giving a boost to the slowly improving housing market. Increased sales have helped to push home prices up. Rising housing demand is boosting new home construction.
TOUGHER STANDARDS: But many people are unable to take advantage of the low rates, either because they can't qualify under stricter lending rules or they lack the money to meet larger down payment requirements.