Mortgage interest rates continue to break record lows. Last week, they hit an incredible 4.44%, according to Freddie Mac. Yet, not many Americans are taking advantage of these rock-bottom rates. What's keeping them away? A few things. One aspect is certainly demand. Few people want to buy new homes right now. Others have already refinanced at low enough rates over the past few years that refinancing again probably won't make much difference. But Fortune reports that banks' new strict requirements are also preventing many refinance applications from being accepted:

The stricter qualifications include a higher FICO score of at least 620, a higher down payment and lower monthly debt service ratios. Additionally, lenders typically won't loan more than the appraised value of a home. The troubled housing market has left an estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages -- one in five -- worth more than the value of the homes they helped purchase. The growing mountains of paperwork required and higher bank fees have also discouraged some from refinancing.

Add it all up, and you get a 4.44% rate that most Americans can't have.

Read the full story at Fortune.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.