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updated 4/19/2012 4:52:08 PM ET 2012-04-19T20:52:08

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage stayed near its lowest level on record, keeping home-buying and refinancing affordable.

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Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan rose to 3.90 percent from 3.88 percent. The rate touched 3.87 percent in February, which was the lowest since long-term mortgages began in the 1950s.

The 30-year loan is the most common financing option for home buyers.

The 15-year mortgage, which is popular with those refinancing, rose to 3.13 percent from 3.11 percent, an all-time low.

Cheaper mortgages have done little to boost home sales. Americans bought 2.6 percent fewer homes in March, according to a separate report released by the National Association of Realtors.

Some would-be buyers are skeptical about purchasing a home with prices still falling. Home appraisals that are higher or lower than the sales price have scuttled some home contracts. And many Americans are struggling with damaged credit and unstable finances.

To calculate the average rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country on Monday through Wednesday of each week.

The average rates don't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for the 30-year loan rose to 0.8 from 0.7. The fee for the 15-year loan was unchanged at 0.7.

For the five-year adjustable loan, the average rate fell to 2.78 percent from 2.85 percent. The average fee for the loan was unchanged at 0.7.

The average fee on the one-year adjustable loan ticked up to 2.81 percent from 2.80 percent. The average fee was unchanged at 0.6.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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