Since the housing bubble burst more than six years ago, banks have imposed tighter credit conditions and required larger down payments. Those changes have left many would-be buyers unable to qualify for super-low mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates dropped last week to near-record lows. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage dropped to 3.41 percent from 3.43 percent. That's not far from the record low of 3.31 percent in November.
Rising demand and short supplies have encouraged builders to boost construction. U.S. builders started work on more than 1 million homes at an annual pace in March, the first time they've topped that threshold in nearly 5 years.