NEW YORK – Mortgage rates have hit lows for the year and could soon near the decades-low levels of last year.

Those rates are providing an incentive for buyers, along with falling home prices. They’re tempting for refinancers, too.

Still, analysts say the combination isn’t likely to lift the depressed housing industry or contribute much to the overall economy. In many metro areas, real estate is straining under the weight of foreclosures, higher down-payment requirements, tighter credit, still-high unemployment and buyers’ expectations of even lower prices.

“If people aren’t confident about the economy, about jobs and home prices, they certainly aren’t going to sign up for the biggest purchase of their lives,” said Greg McBride, a senior analyst at Bankrate.com.

This week, a qualified buyer could finance a home over 30 years at an average fixed rate of 4.63 percent, said mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. That’s the lowest average rate in five months. In November, the rate fell to a four-decade low of 4.17 percent.

The 15-year fixed mortgage, popular with refinancers, is down to 3.82 percent, also the lowest point since December.