US average mortgage rates fall; 30-year loan at 2.88%

WASHINGTON — U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages fell this week, pushing the key 30-year loan to a record low for the eighth time this year.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported today that the average rate on the 30-year home loan dropped to 2.88% from 2.99% last week. It was the lowest level since Freddie started tracking rates in 1971. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.60% a year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.44% from 2.51% last week.

Homebuying demand continues as one of few bright spots in the economy, with the recovery stagnating. But a key barrier for potential buyers is still the lack of available homes, especially for first-time purchases.

As the coronavirus 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. The government reported Thursday that nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the pandemic keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired.