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Low mortgage rates out of reach for most Arizonans

Mortgage rates have fallen to unprecedented lows this year, but local analysts said only a fraction of Arizona consumers meet the financial requirements to take advantage of them. Even fewer prospective borrowers have the sort of financial pedigree that would earn them today's lowest advertised rates, they said. The lowest available rate for a conventional, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in Arizona was less than 4 percent on Wednesday, according to online lender exchange Also on Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the national average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 4.6 percent, and the latest available data on Federal Housing Administration loans indicates an annual rate just above 5.2 percent. In all cases, today's mortgage rates are the lowest in years, offering a huge financial incentive to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. The only challenge is meeting lenders' underwriting standards. It's a challenge most Arizona consumers are not able to meet, said Paul Klimke, president-elect of the Arizona Association of Mortgage Professionals. Klimke said that underwriting standards aren't any tougher today than they were 15 years ago but that the financial climate has changed dramatically. "The tough economy has pushed people's financial history and financial stability to the point where they don't qualify," said Klimke, who is also branch manager at AmeriFirst Financial Inc. in Mesa.

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