Average US mortgage rates below 3% for the first time since February.


FILE – In this file photo from Thursday, February 18, 2021, a new home is for sale in Madison, Georgia. Mortgage rates fell for the third week in a row, falling below 3% for the first time in two months. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac announced Thursday, April 22, that the benchmark 30-year mortgage rate fell to 2.97% this week from 3.04% last week. (AP Photo / John Bazemore, file)

McLEAN, Virginia | Mortgage rates fell for the third week in a row, dropping below 3% for the first time in two months.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the benchmark 30-year mortgage rate fell to 2.97% this week from 3.04% last week. Around the same time last year, the long-term rate was 3.33%.

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

Experts expect mortgage rates to rise slightly in the near term, while remaining at low levels given the Federal Reserve’s target of keeping its prime lending rate near zero until what the economy recovers from the pandemic.

Even with historically low rates, buyers are struggling to snatch homes because there are so few for sale.

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

On the bright side, the Labor Department reported on Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment assistance fell to 547,000 last week, the lowest point since the outbreak of the pandemic and an encouraging sign that layoffs are slowing thanks to improving the labor market.


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