US home sales rise to 2nd-highest pace in 3 years
Since the housing bubble burst more than six years ago, banks have adopted tighter credit standards and are requiring larger down payments. That's left many would-be buyers unable to qualify for super-low mortgage rates.
The average U.S. rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.53 percent. That's near the 3.31 percent reached in November, the lowest on records dating to 1971.
Rising demand for homes is encouraging builders to step up production. In January, builders started construction at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 890,000 homes. That was down from December but was still the third-highest pace since mid-2008 and nearly 24 percent above the level a year ago.
And applications for building permits, a sign of future construction, rose in January to their highest point since June 2008.
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