Mortgage rates have been inching upward for the past two months, but they’re still at historic lows overall. The 30-year fixed rates are hovering around 3%.
Even as mortgage rates inch upward, Freddie Mac data shows that rates are still significantly lower than they have been the past five years:
Mortgage rates will probably stay low through the end of of 2021, but we may see them rise in 2022.
Mortgage rates today
Mortgage refinance rates today
Use our free mortgage calculator to see how today’s mortgage rates will affect your monthly and long-term payments.
Your estimated monthly payment
- Paying a 25% higher down payment would save you $8,916.08 on interest charges
- Lowering the interest rate by 1% would save you $51,562.03
- Paying an additional $500 each month would reduce the loan length by 146 months
By plugging in different term lengths and interest rates, you’ll see how your monthly payment could change.
What is a mortgage rate?
A mortgage rate is the interest you pay on the money you borrow from a lender to buy or refinance your home. It’s basically the fee you pay for borrowing, expressed as a percentage. For example, you may take out a $200,000 mortgage, plus a 2.75% interest rate.
There are two types of mortgage rates: fixed and adjustable.
A fixed-rate mortgage locks in your rate for the entire length of your mortgage. Even if rates in the US market increase or decrease, your rate will stay the same. This is an especially great deal right now, as rates are at historic lows overall.
An adjustable-rate mortgage keeps your rate the same for a predetermined amount of time, then changes it periodically. A 5/1 ARM locks in your rate for the first five years, then the rate fluctuates once per year. This is a riskier approach these days, because you risk your rate going up later since rates are low right now.
How are mortgage rates determined?
Mortgage rates are determined by a combination of factors — some you can control, and some you can’t.
The main external factor is the economy. Interest rates tend to be higher when the US economy is thriving and lower when it’s struggling. The two main economic factors that impact mortgage rates are employment and inflation. When employment numbers and inflation go up, mortgage rates tend to increase.
Finally, your mortgage rate relies on what type of mortgage you get. Government-backed mortgages (like FHA, VA, and USDA loans) charge the lowest rates, while jumbo mortgages charge the highest rates. You’ll also get a lower rate with a shorter mortgage term.
How do I choose a mortgage lender?
A lender should be relatively affordable. You shouldn’t need a super high credit score or down payment to get a loan. You also want it to offer good rates and charge reasonable fees.
Once you’re ready to start shopping for homes, apply for preapproval with your top three or four choices. A preapproval letter states that the lender would like to lend you up to a certain amount, at a specific interest rate. When you’re preapproved, your mortgage rate is locked in for 60 to 90 days. With a few preapproval letters in hand, you can compare each lender’s offer.
When you apply for preapproval, a lender does a hard credit inquiry. A bunch of hard inquiries on your report can hurt your credit score — unless it’s for the sake of shopping for the best rate.
If you limit your rate shopping to a month or so, credit bureaus will understand that you’re looking for a home and shouldn’t hold each individual inquiry against you.