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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

Kate Marino, author of Markets
Oct 5, 2021 - Economy & Business

Understanding corporate America’s debt binge

Expand chart
Data: LCD, an offering of S&P Global Market Intelligence; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

U.S. companies are still binging on debt, as interest rates remain near record lows.

Driving the news: With the third quarter now in the books, we can see that the dollar amount of year-to-date leveraged loans and high yield bond sales are unmatched in recent history. This debt is the type issued by companies with lower credit ratings.

Updated 1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.