US average mortgage rates tick lower; 30-year loan at 2.96%

FILE - In this March 15, 2021 file photo, a sold sign stands in front of new home under construction in Houston. Mortgage rates remained near historic lows this week, Thursday, June 10. The benchmark 30-year home loan remained below the 3% mark amid continued positive indications of the economy's recovery from the pandemic recession. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - In this March 15, 2021 file photo, a sold sign stands in front of new home under construction in Houston. Mortgage rates remained near historic lows this week, Thursday, June 10. The benchmark 30-year home loan remained below the 3% mark amid continued positive indications of the economy's recovery from the pandemic recession. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Mortgage rates remained near historic lows this week. The benchmark 30-year home loan held below the 3% mark amid further signs of the economy’s recovery from the pandemic recession.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the average for the 30-year rate loan dipped to 2.96% from 2.99% last week.

The rate for a 15-year loan, which is a popular option among homeowners refinancing their mortgages, edged down to 2.23% from 2.27% last week.

In the latest economic news, the government reported that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped last week for the sixth straight week, to 376,000, a new pandemic low.

“Despite the stronger economy, the housing market is experiencing a slowdown in purchase application activity due to modestly higher mortgage rates,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, it has yet to translate into a weaker home price trajectory because the shortage of inventory continues to cause pricing to remain elevated.”

Another report Thursday found that Americans moved to slightly bigger homes in less expensive areas. On average, people who moved to a different city in 2020 ended up in a ZIP code where average home values were nearly $27,000 lower than in their previous ZIP code, according to Zillow.

Rising prices, a dearth of homes on the market and the ability to work remotely motivated many Americans to relocate last year.