The average long-term US mortgage rate falls yet again. See where home sales are headed in Montana

The average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan fell for the third week in a row, welcome news for house hunters facing a market held back by persistently high prices and a near-historic low number of homes for sale.

The latest decline brought the average rate on a 30-year mortgage down to 7.44% from 7.5% last week, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday. A year ago, the rate averaged 6.61%.

As mortgage rates rise, they can add hundreds of dollars a month in costs for borrowers, limiting how much they can afford in a market already out of reach for many Americans. They also discourage homeowners who locked in far lower rates two years ago, when they were around 3%, from selling.

The combination of rising mortgage rates and home prices have weighed on sales of previously occupied U.S. homes, which fell in September for the fourth month in a row, grinding to their slowest pace in more than a decade.

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