Quick Takes

PROMOTED: Kristine Provan, formerly of Steubenville, has been promoted to regional director of operations for Laurel Health Care Co., and will have operational oversight for 12 skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities in Central and Northeast Ohio, including the Laurels of Steubenville.

She is a graduate of Steubenville Catholic Central High School and Ohio University, and the daughter of the late Michael and Judy Keane of Steubenville. Provan has worked in long-term care for 20 years and has been with Laurel Health Care for 11 years as a licensed nursing home administrator.

Provan lives in Columbus with her husband and children.

Laurel Health Care provides skilled nursing and rehabilitation services throughout five states and 44 individual nursing homes.

RATES DROP: U.S. long-term mortgage rates fell this week, offering a slight degree of relief to would-be homebuyers after the stock market has tumbled.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 4.55 percent from to 4.62 percent last week. Rates averaged 3.99 percent a year ago.

The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate loans dropped to 4.01 percent from 4.07 percent. Still, that average is above its 3.44 percent level a year ago.

Mortgage rates began to spike after President Donald Trump signed deficit-financed tax cuts into law last year, but rates have eased in recent weeks as stocks have sold-off and the interest charged on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note has tumbled.

HOME SALES SLIP: Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in November as higher mortgage rates and prices continued to squeeze would-be buyers out of the market.

The National Association of Realtors said Friday that its pending home sales index dipped 0.7 percent last month to 101.4. The index based on contract signings has dropped 7.7 percent over the past year and has recorded 11 straight year-over-year decreases.

The rate on benchmark 30-year, fixed rate mortgages was 4.55 percent this week, down from 4.62 percent last week but up from 3.99 percent a year ago.

“The latest decline in contract signings implies more short-term pullback in the housing sector,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

From staff and wire reports