WASHINGTON – U.S. average rates on long-term mortgages rose this week though they remain at historically low levels. The key 30-year loan nudged toward 3%.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year home loan increased to 2.99% from 2.96% last week. By contrast, the rate averaged 3.55% a year ago.
The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 2.54% from 2.46% from last week.
Homebuying demand continues as one of few bright spots in the pandemic-struck economy, especially for prospective buyers considering a first-time purchase. The government reported Tuesday that construction of new homes surged 22.6% in July as homebuilders bounced back from a lull induced by the coronavirus pandemic.
Housing starts have now risen three straight months after plunging in March and April as the virus outbreak paralyzed the U.S. economy. Last month’s pace of construction was 23.4% above that in July 2019. The big gains came from the construction of apartments and condominiums, which soared 56.7%. But single-family home construction ticked up, too, by 8.2%.
In the latest indication of how halting and slow the economy’s recovery has been, the government’s latest weekly report on unemployment claims showed Thursday that the number of workers seeking benefits crept back above 1 million last week after two weeks of declines. Many businesses and consumers remain paralyzed by uncertainty and restricted by lockdowns.