It appears the 7.2% jump in home prices across the U.S. to $260,900 in February is being offset by steadily declining average mortgage rates. Higher home prices, combined with increasing mortgage rates, could push average homebuyers out of the market -- clearly not a good scenario for lenders.

The drop in rates follows the recent increase in the Federal Reserve's benchmark rate, as well as the subsequent bump in many banks' prime rates -- what they charge their most creditworthy customers. This makes the recent declines an even more pleasant surprise.

Here are today's average mortgage rates across the U.S., along with where they stood a month ago.

Mortgage Type

Mortgage Rates Today

Mortgage Rates 1 month ago

30-year fixed jumbo

4.48%

4.62%

30-year fixed

3.95%

4.10%

15-year fixed

3.13%

3.22%

30-year fixed refinance

3.94%

4.11%

15-year fixed refinance

3.15%

3.23%

5/1 ARM

3.13%

3.28%

5/1 ARM refinance

3.26%

3.36%

Data source: Bloomberg. National average rates which may include points.

As inexpensive as mortgages are today, they are at levels homebuyers couldn't have even imagined 25 years ago. For some perspective, here are a few average rates from April 1992.

Mortgage Type

Mortgage Rates March 2012

30-year fixed

8.85%

15-year fixed

8.47%

1-year ARM

6.15%

Data source: Freddie Mac. Rates do not include points.

For homeowners intending to tap into their home's equity via a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or equity loan, both rates remained relatively stable again today -- not surprising, given the aforementioned bump in average home values. HELOC and equity loan rates are now 5.20% and 5.29%, respectively. HELOC rates are still below last month's 5.23%, though home equity loans are above March's 5.26%.

 
 

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