(Adds detail, background)
WASHINGTON, April 9 Interest rates on typical
home loans will continue to fall from their current, record
lows, the top U.S. housing official said on Thursday.
"I think you will see them continue to come down, based on
everything that we're doing, but recognize that they've already
started to make a big difference," Housing and Urban
Development Secretary Shawn Donovan said on CNBC.
Donovan was speaking after a White House press event where
President Barack Obama touted his plans to rescue the housing
Mortgage rates climbed from record lows in the past week
and settled at 4.87 percent for a 30-year loan, said mortgage
finance company Freddie Mac. A year ago, the rate was 5.88
percent and officials hope that drop will coax more prospective
buyers into the market.
In late February, the White House announced a plan to help
9 million homeowners win lower mortgage rates or lower their
monthly bills to a more affordable level.
"Home purchases are up about 20 percent since we announced
the plan so we are already beginning to see a difference,"
Still, most of the program is still on ice as officials
work through the details and try to win concessions from the
mortgage investors who now hold many troubled loans.
(Reporting by Patrick Rucker; Additional reporting by Lynn
Adler in New York)