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Mortgage rates have tumbled to their lowest level since mid-September, drawing eager homebuyers out of their winter retreats.

“Home purchase demand is thawing from the months-long freeze that gripped the housing market,” says Sam Khater, chief economist at housing giant Freddie Mac.

“Potential homebuyers remain sensitive to changes in mortgage rates, but ample demand remains, fueled by first-time homebuyers.”

Economists are also keeping an eye out for the Fed’s next rate hike — and hoping a tempered raise to the federal funds rate will keep mortgage rates tame.

30-year fixed-rate mortgages

The average 30-year fixed-rate retreated further to 6.13%, Freddie Mac reported Thursday. Last week, the average rate was 6.15%.

This time a year ago, the average rate was 3.55%.

Although this week’s mortgage data marks the third-straight weekly decline, some economists remain skeptical about rates falling below the 6% mark.