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Homeowners, Buyers Cheer Lower Rates

INTEREST rates on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages declined to a 20-year low of 7.44 percent last week, the Federal Home Loan Bank Corporation says. That rate was down from 7.53 percent a week earlier and was the lowest weekly average since 7.43 percent during the week ended Feb. 9, 1973.

Those attractive long-term rates are also giving a boost to the economy. Combined with stable prices in many areas, the lowest interest rates in two decades are boosting home sales and construction, providing a boost to a still sluggish economy.

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In just a few years, some homeowners have had mortgage rates almost cut in half, and some forecasters say more cuts are likely before the year is out. For homeowners with large mortgages, budget relief of $400 a month is common.

Moreover, as homeowners appreciate, the tax-deductibility of mortgage interest is one of the last remaining "loopholes" available to individuals, seemingly too sacrosanct a benefit for legislators to touch.

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