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US long-term mortgage rates rise slightly; 30-year at 2.81%

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020 file photo, a for sale sign stands outside a residential home in East Derry, N.H. U.S. long-term mortgage rates ticked up this week but remain at historic lows as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the economy even as more Americans get vaccinated. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan rose to 2.81% from last weeks 2.73%. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

SILVER SPRING, Md. – U.S. long-term mortgage rates ticked up this week but remain at historic lows as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the economy even as more Americans get vaccinated.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate home loan rose to 2.81% from last week’s 2.73%. One year ago, the rate was 3.49%.

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

The 5-year adjustable rate mortgage averaged 2.77%, down from last week's 2.79%. It averaged 3.25% one year ago.

While economists expect modest increases in home-loan rates this year, they likely will remain low with the Federal Reserve keeping interest rates near zero until the economy recovers.

Record-low lending rates have helped push buyers into the housing market, but a lack of supply has left many prospective buyers empty handed. The lack of supply was pushing prices up even before the pandemic struck last March.

Although the housing market has been one of the stronger sectors of the U.S. economy since early summer, the overall economy remains at the mercy of the ongoing pandemic.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week to 861,000, evidence that layoffs remain elevated despite a steady drop in the number of confirmed viral infections. About 1.7 million Americans are getting vaccinated each day, although those efforts have been complicated by recent winter weather in many parts of the country.