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Data: Freddie Mac; Chart: Axios Visuals

Mortgage rates are falling back to historic lows, which means homeowners are getting another opportunity to refinance their debt at a lower cost.

Why it matters: For many Americans, mortgage payments represent their biggest monthly outflow of cash. Refinancing at a lower rate reduces that burden, and potentially means more capacity to spend, which in turn stimulates the economy.

By the numbers: As of July 22, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.78%, according to Freddie Mac. This is down from 2.88% a week ago.

  • It's the lowest level since Feb. 11.
  • This rate is below the effective average rate of all mortgage debt outstanding, according to data cited by Renaissance Macro Research.

Yes, but: Mortgage Bankers Association chief economist Mike Fratantoni tells Axios that while mortgage rates are very low, they were slightly lower late last year. And so those who refinanced then have no incentive to refinance now.

  • "They’re not a customer right now because rates are a half a point higher," he said.

But, but, but: The Federal Housing Finance Agency recently announced an end to the 0.5% mortgage refinance fee implemented during the pandemic.

  • While these savings may not bring back those who refinanced when rates were at rock bottom, they’ll certainly help attract those who still pay more for their mortgage than today's rates.

The bottom line: "With mortgage rates falling again to near record lows, combined with the removal of the adverse market fee effective August 1st, we will likely see another increase in refinance activity from already elevated levels," Bill McBride, housing economist at Calculated Risk, tells Axios.

Go deeper: If the Federal Reserve stopped buying mortgages

Go deeper

Aug 24, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Twin Cities housing pinch coming from both sides

Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Home buyers, especially first timers, continue to deal with a short supply of houses on the market, bidding wars and waived inspections. But Plan B — renting an apartment — is getting a bit more expensive.

Driving the news: After a year of stagnating rents brought on by the pandemic, prices for rental housing in the Twin Cities increased in July to just over $1,600 a month, according to Zillow.

  • That 4.1% jump from the same time last year puts rents nearly where Zillow projected them to be before the pandemic.

Yes, but: There are still deals to be found, especially in downtown Minneapolis. Now is typically when landlords are trying to fill up their buildings before winter.

  • For example, the Wilf family’s new apartment building near U.S. Bank Stadium — 240 Park Avenue — is advertising two free months of rent for new leases.

Between the lines: With rents rising again and mortgage rates remaining low, it would seem to be a good time to buy a house.

  • But there's only about 7,600 houses on the market in the Twin Cities, down 25% from this time last year, according to the Minneapolis and St. Paul Area Realtors associations.
  • The median home spent just seven days on the market last month, down from 17 days a year ago and 25 in 2016.

What they're saying: "With offers still coming in at an average of 3.6% over original asking price, more people are understanding the strength of this market," Todd Walker, president of Minneapolis Area Realtors Association, said in a news release.

What's ahead: The good news is that housing construction starts in the Twin Cities metro are on pace for about 25,000 new units in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • That would be the most new housing starts since 2004.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.

1 hour ago - World

Pope Francis urges bishops to listen to survivors of sexual abuse

Pope Francis rides his Pope mobile through a crowd of pilgrims before holding an open-air mass on September 15, 2021 in Sastin, Slovakia. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday urged European bishops to listen to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, saying "these important discussions truly touch the future of the church," AP reports.

Driving the news: Francis spoke in a video message to Central and Eastern European bishops who are convening in Poland for a four-day child protection conference beginning on Sunday.