By MATT OTT
AP Business Writer
The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate inched down for the fifth straight week, positive news for potential home buyers and a real estate market that’s been chilled by the Federal Reserve’s series of interest rate hikes the past year. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate ticked down to 6.27% from 6.28% the previous week. The average rate last year at this time was 5%. The average long-term mortgage rate hit 7.08% in the fall — a two-decade high. Though supply remains low, home prices are retreating slightly, which could lure buyers back into the market.