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Low mortgage rates can't spark housing market

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UNDATED (WSAU) Home mortgage rates are at an all-time low – but Wisconsin real estate and financial experts are not sure if it’s enough to pull the housing market out of its doldrums. Milwaukee mortgage company owner Donald Lenski says potential home buyers should stop hesitating and take the plunge now – or else they might see interest rates jump by up to one-percent sometime in the next year.

But a broker for an Oconomowoc realty firm says lower rates have already spurred more activity among potential buyers. Freddie Mac reported yesterday that the average 30-year home mortgage rate has dropped below four-percent for the first time.

But investment strategist Bruce Bittles of Milwaukee’s Robert W. Baird-and-Company says few people are in the market to buy homes right now because they cannot sell the ones they have – and high unemployment still has people nervous about their economic futures. He says the main benefit of the lower interest rates could be the refinancing of existing mortgages. But Lenski says lending standards remain tough – and people need credit scores of at least 740 and loan-to-value ratios above 75-percent to get the best rates.

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