DETROIT Jan 26 The U.S. housing market may at least be nearing a bottom after its worst downturn since the Great Depression, Freddie Mac FRE.N Chief Executive Charles Haldeman said on Tuesday.
"The numbers will always bounce around some, but from home sales to house prices, it appears that nationally we may at last be approaching a bottom," Haldeman said at a speech sponsored by the Detroit Economic Club.
Housing has been recovering from a three-year slump, driven by a tax credit for first-time buyers and low mortgage rates. The tax credit, which had been scheduled to end in November, was expanded and extended until June.
Haldeman said he expected the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to remain between 5 percent and 6 percent throughout 2010.
The mortgage financed company refinanced loans for almost 170,000 families through the end of 2009 under an Obama administration program aimed at stemming a rising tide of foreclosures, Haldeman said.
Combined with Freddie Mac's own programs, the company refinanced about $379 billion in home loans in 2009, he said.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)