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The $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit has received a lot of attention lately, but it has also overshadowed another big reason to buy a home now: record-low interest rates. In May, 30-year mortgage rates of 5 percent were widely available. That’s down from January’s already-low 5.8 percent, and two percentage points less than in August 2008. How important is two points? On a $200,000 home, a buyer could save $257 per month ($3,084 per year) by buying now rather than last August. On a $200,000, 30-year fixed rate mortgage, the monthly payment difference is:
• 7 percent: $1,330 monthly (rates in August 2008)
• 6 percent: $1,199 monthly (rates in December 2008)
• 5 percent: $1,073 monthly (rates in May 2009)