Benchmark U.S. 30-year mortgage drops to record low 2.66%

WASHINGTON (AP) - US long-term mortgage rates fell to a record low for the 16th time in 2020 this week, driven by an economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan fell to a record low of 2.67% from 2.67% last week. A year ago it was 3.74%
The average 15-year fixed rate loan rate, popular with homeowners looking to refinance their mortgages, fell from 2.21% to 2.19%. A year ago it was 3.19%.
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The 5 year floating rate mortgage was unchanged this week at 2.79%. A year ago it was 3.45%.
The real estate market has been a source of strength in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak. The Federal Reserve has pushed the interest rate it controls to zero to help the economy recover from a spring stall.
However, home sales have been hampered by the lack of home ownership in the market. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that new single-family home sales were down 11% from October to November, although purchases were up nearly 21% year over year.
"For 2021, we expect rates to remain stable, but the main driver in the near future will be the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and the implementation of the vaccine," said Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater.

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