Rock-bottom mortgage rates roll on into October

Dollar sign and house balanced on teeter-totter

These are epic times when it comes to home financing.

The average cost of every type of mortgage we track has set, and remains near, new record lows this fall.

Click here to find the complete results of our most recent weekly interest rate survey.

The loan you land today won't just be cheap, it will be the best loan you'll ever own.

You'll spend the rest of your life regaling family and friends about how you financed the old homestead for less than 4% with a 30-year, fixed-rate loan back in the fall of '11.

A few years from now, when the economy has returned to normal, they'll think you're bragging.

To see how affordable home loans in your area have become, search our extensive database of the best rates from hundreds of lenders.

You’ll find lenders in most markets offering 30-year, fixed-rate home loans for as little as 3.875%, or even 3.75%, with no points and application fees of less than $2,000.

The principal and interest payments on such a home loan would be about $460 to $470 a month for every $100,000 borrowed.

Use our mortgage calculator to determine the monthly payments for any fixed-rate loan.

But, you ask, how do I know if I can qualify for one of these loans?

About half of homeowners couldn't get a loan if they applied today, Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist for Capital Economics in London, recently told the Associated Press.

A study by the Wall Street Journal found the nation's 10 largest lenders denied 26.8% of loan applications in 2010, up from 23.5% in 2009.

The data analyzed by the Journal included loan applications filed by consumers who wanted to refinance existing loans as well as those planning to buy a home.

Among home buyers, lenders denied 19.9% of applications, up from 18.2% in the previous year, while 27.2% of refinance applications were denied, up from 24.4%.

The best way to find out where you stand is to seek preapproval from a lender or two.

You fill out an application that asks how much you make, how much you've saved and how much you owe on everything from cars to school loans to credit cards.

The lender evaluates that info, checks your credit reports and credit scores, and replies with a letter that says you can qualify and how much it's willing to loan.

Getting preapproved is usually free, and you have plenty of time to find a willing lender and shop for your perfect home.

A new effort by the Federal Reserve should hold rates at or near today's record lows for the foreseeable future.

Between now and the end of June, the government-controlled bank will sell $400 billion worth of short-term Treasury bonds it owns and buy $400 billion worth of long-term government debt.

That switch should drive down the interest rate on that long-term debt, and mortgage rates usually follow the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds pretty closely.

As recently as April, borrowers were paying more than 5% for the average 30-year loan.

Most economists expected home loans to become increasingly expensive as the year wore on, projecting they would rise to a far more typical 5.5% to 6.0% by late 2011.

Now it looks like the average interest rate on those loans will remain closer to 4.25% through the end of the year -- and probably longer.

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