WASHINGTON — U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages declined this week, remaining near historic lows as the key 30-year loan slipped back below 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported today that the average rate on the 30-year home loan eased to 2.99% from 3.01% last week. The benchmark rate hasn’t fallen below the 3% mark for 50 years. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.75% a year ago.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.51% from 2.54% last week.
Homebuying demand continues as one of few bright spots in the economy, with the recovery stagnating and economic indicators pointing to slow growth and possible persistent high unemployment, Freddie Mac said. The government reported Thursday that the economy shrank at an alarming 33% annual rate in the April-June quarter, when the coronavirus outbreak shut down businesses and threw tens of millions out of work. It was the steepest drop in the gross domestic product in records dating to 1947.
As the virus has surged in the South and West in recent weeks, many states have halted plans to reopen businesses and millions of consumers have delayed any return to traveling, shopping and other normal economic activity. In yet more evidence of deepening economic pain, the government reported that more than 1.4 million laid-off Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.