BALTIMORE — Rates on 30-year mortgages have fallen to record lows for the third consecutive week as inflation remains muted in a weakened economy, even in the face of persistent demand from homebuyers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average rate on the key 30-year fixed-rate mortgage declined to 3.03%, down from 3.07% last week and 3.13% two weeks prior. These were the lowest levels since Freddie Mac began tracking averages in 1971. The rate averaged 3.75% a year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed-rate mortgage also dropped to 2.51%, from 2.56%, last week. That average is down from 3.22% a year ago.

Rates are making homes more affordable as potential buyers, who had been shut in, appear to be returning to the market. Pending home sales jumped a record 44.3% in May as a comeback appears to be building in the sector, according to the National Association of Realtors.