US average mortgage rates under 3% for first time since Feb.


McLEAN, Va. — Mortgage rates fell for the third straight week, dipping below 3% for the first time in two months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the benchmark 30-year home-loan rate declined to 2.97% this week from 3.04% last week. At this time last year, the long-term rate was 3.33%.

The rate for a 15-year loan, popular among those looking to refinance, dipped to 2.29% from 2.35% the week before.

Experts have expected home-loan rates to increase modestly in the short term, while remaining at low levels in light of the Federal Reserve’s goal of keeping its principal borrowing rate near zero until the economy recovers from the pandemic.

Even with historically low rates, buyers are having a hard time snatching up homes because there are so few for sale.

Another report Thursday from the National Association of Realtors showed that sales of existing home sales fell for the second straight month in March because there are so few on the market. The coronavirus pandemic has fueled demand for single-family homes as people look for more space.

On the bright side, the Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to 547,000, the lowest point since the pandemic struck and an encouraging sign that layoffs are slowing on the strength of an improving job market.

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