WASHINGTON -- Declaring "good news" in the midst of an economic meltdown, President Barack Obama on Thursday urged families to take advantage of record low mortgage rates by refinancing their homes.
"We are a time where people can really take advantage of this," Obama said, seated with a handful of homeowners who have already lowered their bills.
Rates on 30-year mortgages have fallen to 4.78 percent on average, the lowest on record. Rates are down by more than a full percentage point from a year ago.
"The main message we want to send today is there are 7 to 9 million people across the country who right now could be taking advantage of lower mortgage rates," Obama said in a photo opportunity in the Roosevelt Room. "That is money in their pocket."
The president encouraged people to take advantage of a government Web site -- www.makinghomeaffordable.gov -- to see how they can get help.
In just a handful of minutes of addressing reporters, Obama read the Web site address aloud five different times.
The president credited his own government's efforts, in part, for contributing to a recent surge in refinancing. The collapse of the inflated housing market helped contribute to a meltdown in the financial sector and the broader economy, and millions of people have lost their homes or been at risk for foreclosure.
Obama also warned people to watch out for scam artists.
"If somebody is asking you for money up front before they help you with your refinancing," Obama said, "it's probably a scam."