Mortgage rates in the U.S. have hit another record low.
The average for a 30-year, fixed loan dropped to 2.81%, down from 2.87% last week and the lowest in almost 50 years of data-keeping, Freddie Mac said in a statement Thursday. It was the 10th record low this year. The previous one — 2.86% — held for about a month.
The slide in borrowing costs that began in March, as fears of the coronavirus drove investors to the safety of Treasuries, shows no signs of stopping. The Federal Reserve has signaled it will hold its benchmark rate near zero through at least 2023. That should keep a lid on mortgage rates, which have been below 3% since July.
Cheap loans have been fueling a housing rally that has bolstered the pandemic economy, even amid persistent job losses. Purchases have soared and millions of current homeowners have been able to save money by refinancing. Home ownership has become increasingly un affordable. For those who can’t afford big down payments, mortgage insurance has become a fact of life. For all its expense, mortgage insurance doesn’t deliver the level of protection it should. The government should do what’s needed to reduce the unnecessarily high cost.
But surging demand for the scarce supply of properties on the market is pushing up prices, putting home ownership out of reach for many Americans. And lenders have tightened credit standards, presenting another potential obstacle for would-be buyers.
“It’s important to remember that not all people are able to take advantage of low rates, given the effects of the pandemic,” Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said in the statement.