WASHINGTON — Average rates on long-term mortgages continue to fall to new record lows, as the key 30-year loan dropped below 3% for the first time in 50 years. The stagnant economic recovery in the face of the coronavirus pandemic is keeping inflation tamped down despite pent-up homebuying demand.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan fell this week to 2.98% from 3.03% last week. These are the lowest levels since Freddie Mac began tracking averages in 1971. The rate averaged 3.81% a year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 2.48% from 2.51%, from last week.

In the latest negative economic signal, as new confirmed cases of the virus spike across much

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