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30-year mortgage rate at 3.78, another record low

Mortgage rates have continued to fall over the past week, again setting a record low for a 30-year contract, mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday. 

The 30-year benchmark dipped to 3.78, down from 3.79 a week ago. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage remained unchanged from last week at 3.04 percent.  

"Mortgage rates were virtually unchanged this week with fixed-rate loans remaining at record lows and helping to drive homebuyer affordability," said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist for Freddie Mac. "The National Association of Realtor's Housing Affordability Index reached an all-time record high in the first quarter of this year since records began in 1970. In April, existing home sales rose to the highest rate since January with an annualized rate of 4.62 million homes with purchases increasing in all four Census Regions," Nothaft added. 

As the rates continue to fall, there are some signs that the housing industry is slowly starting to rebound. 

Existing-home sales rose 3.4 percent from March to April, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. 

Year over year, home sales were 10 percent higher in April while median home prices touched $177,400, a 10.1 percent spike from April 2011, the NAR said.

But it's not all rosy on the homefront. Nearly 16 million homeowners owed more on their mortgages than their home was worth in the first quarter, or nearly one-third of U.S. homeowners with mortgages. That’s a $1.2 trillion hole in the collective home equity of American households, msnbc.com's John Schoen reported on Wednesday.