WASHINGTON — U.S. long-term mortgage rates were flat to lower this week, as the key 30-year rate fell to a new all-time low for the 12th time this year.
The background of economic anxiety in the recession set off by the pandemic, which has depressed home loan rates through the year, was amplified in the past week by uncertainty over the presidential election. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year benchmark loan declined to 2.78% from 2.81% last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.69% a year ago.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage stayed at 2.32%.
The historically low borrowing rates have bolstered demand from prospective homebuyers. Demand for homes has remained strong despite a brief slowdown in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but at the same time the rise in home prices has stretched the limits of affordability for many would-be buyers.
The government reported Thursday that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell slightly last week to 751,000, a still-historically high level showing that many employers continue to cut jobs in the face of the accelerating pandemic.
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