Long-term US mortgage rates are up slightly; 30 years at 2.81%

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) – Long-term US mortgage rates have risen this week, but remain at historic lows as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit the economy even as more Americans are vaccinated.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported on Thursday that the average interest rate on the standard 30-year fixed-rate home loan rose to 2.81% from 2.73% last week. A year ago this was still 3.49%.

The average interest rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans, popular with those looking to refinance their mortgages, rose from 2.19% to 2.21% last week. A year ago this was 2.99%.

The 5-year adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.77%, down from last week’s 2.79%. A year ago it was an average of 3.25%.

While economists expect a modest hike in home loan interest rates this year, they are likely to remain low as the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates around zero until the economy recovers.

Record-low loan rates have helped buyers enter the housing market, but a lack of supply leaves many potential buyers empty-handed. The lack of supply pushed prices up even before the pandemic hit last March.

While the housing market has been one of the stronger sectors of the US economy since early summer, the economy as a whole remains at the mercy of the ongoing pandemic.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment assistance rose to 861,000 last week, suggesting that the number of layoffs remains high despite a steady decline in the number of confirmed viral infections. About 1.7 million Americans are vaccinated every day, although those efforts have been complicated by the recent winter weather in many parts of the country.

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