Today's Mortgage Rates Trend Higher | March 17, 2021
Mortgage rates are up compared to yesterday. Today's increase is seen across all fixed-rate loans for both purchase and refinance borrowers. However, rates for adjustable-rate mortgages are down.
Rates have been trending higher over the last few days, although the increases have been moderate. Still, rates are low compared to previous years. For many borrowers interested in buying a house or refinancing a mortgage, rates are still very favorable.
- The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.528% today.
- The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.614% today.
- The average rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 32.988% today.
- The average rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.693% today.
- The average rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 4.589% today.
Current 30-year fixed mortgage rates
- The 30-year rate is 3.528%.
- That's a one-day increase of 0.018 percentage points.
- That's a one-month increase of 0.266 percentage points.
The interest rate and monthly payment on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage won't change over the full term of the loan. If you make only the required monthly payment, the mortgage will be paid off in 360 months, unless you sell the home or refinance the loan.
The interest rate on a 30-year loan will be higher than the rate on a shorter-term loan like a 15-year mortgage, but the monthly payments will be lower. Low monthly payment makes 30-year mortgages the go-to for most home loan borrowers. However, you'll pay more in total interest over the life of a 30-year loan because you're paying a higher interest rate over a longer period of time.
Current 15-year fixed mortgage rate
- The 15-year rate is 2.614%.
- That's a one-day increase of 0.021 percentage points.
- That's a one-month increase of 0.175 percentage points.
A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage will also have a steady rate and required monthly payment over the full term of the loan. The loan will be paid off in 180 months unless you pay extra, sell the home or refinance the loan.
The interest rate on a 15-year mortgage is lower than that of a 30-year loan but the monthly payments are higher because you're paying the loan off in half the time. You'll pay less in total interest with a 15-year mortgage compared to a 30-year because you're paying a lower interest rate over a shorter period of time.
The low interest rate makes a 15-year mortgage attractive to borrowers who can afford the higher payments in exchange for paying the debt off faster and saving on interest.
5/1 jumbo adjustable-rate mortgage rates today
- The 5/1 ARM rate is 2.988%.
- That's a one-day decrease of 0.012 percentage points.
- That's a one-month decrease of 0.212 percentage points.
Adjustable-rate mortgages will actually have a fixed interest rate for an initial, predetermined period of time. Afterward, the rate will reset, usually on a yearly basis. As a result, the monthly payment on an ARM will be fixed during the first few years and then change along with any changes in the interest rate.
For example, a 5/1 ARM will have a fixed rate for the first five years of the loan and then reset every year after. Common terms for ARMs include 5/1, 7/1 and 10/1. Adjustable-rate mortgages will typically have a full term of 30 years.
The interest rate on a 5/1 ARM will typically be lower than that of a 30-year fixed-rate loan. The initial low rate makes the 5/1 loan popular among borrowers who don't intend to stay in the home beyond the fixed-rate period.
VA, FHA and jumbo loan rates today
The average rates for FHA, VA and jumbo loans are:
- The rate a 30-year FHA mortgage is 3.473%.
- The rate on a 30-year VA mortgage is 3.551%.
- The rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 3.697%.
Mortgage refinance rates today
The average rates for 30-year loans, 15- year loans and 5/1 jumbo ARMs are:
- The refinance rate on a 30-year fixed-rate refinance is 3.839%.
- The refinance rate on a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.937%.
- The refinance rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 3.505%.
- The refinance rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.908%.
- The refinance rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 4.895%.
Where are mortgage rates heading this year?
Mortgage rates sunk through 2020. Millions of homeowners responded to low mortgage rates by refinancing existing loans and taking out new ones. Many people bought homes they may not have been able to afford if rates were higher.
In January 2021, rates briefly dropped to the lowest levels on record, but trended higher through the month and into February.
Looking ahead, experts believe interest rates will rise more in 2021, but modestly. Factors that could influence rates include how quickly the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and when lawmakers can agree on another economic relief package. More vaccinations and stimulus from the government could lead to improved economic conditions, which would boost rates.
While mortgage rates are likely to rise this year, experts say the increase won’t happen overnight and it won’t be a dramatic jump. Rates should stay near historically low levels through the first half of the year, rising slightly later in the year. Even with rising rates, it will still be a favorable time to finance a new home or refinance.
Factors that influence mortgage rates include:
- The Federal Reserve. The Fed took swift action when the pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020. The Fed announced plans to keep money moving through the economy by dropping the short-term Federal Fund interest rate to between 0% and 0.25%, which is as low as they go. The central bank also pledged to buy mortgage-backed securities and treasuries, propping up the housing finance market. The Fed has reaffirmed its commitment to these policies for the foreseeable future multiple times, most recently at a late January policy meeting.
- The 10-year Treasury note. Mortgage rates move in lockstep with the yields on the government’s 10-year Treasury note. Yields dropped below 1% for the first time in March, and have been slowly rising since then. Currently, yields have been hovering above 1% since the beginning of the year, pushing interest rates slightly higher. On average, there is typically a 1.8 point “spread” between Treasury yields and benchmark mortgage rates.
- The broader economy. Unemployment rates and change in gross domestic product are important indicators of the overall health of the economy. When employment and GDP growth are low, it means the economy is weak, which can push interest rates down. Thanks to the pandemic, unemployment levels reached all-time highs early last year and have not yet recovered. GDP also took a hit, and while it has bounced back somewhat, there is still a lot of room for improvement.
Tips for getting the lowest mortgage rate possible
There is no universal mortgage rate that all borrowers receive. Qualifying for the lowest mortgage rates takes a little bit of work and will depend on both personal financial factors and market conditions.
Check your credit score and credit report. Errors or other red flags that may be dragging your credit score down. Borrowers with the highest credit scores are the ones who will get the best rates, so checking your credit report before you start the house-hunting process is key. Taking steps to fix errors will help you raise your score. If you have high credit card balances, paying them down can also provide a quick boost.
Save up money for a sizeable down payment. This will lower your loan-to-value ratio, which means how much of the home’s price the lender has to finance. A lower LTV usually translates to a lower mortgage rate. Lenders also like to see money that has been saved in an account for at least 60 days. It tells the lender you have the money to finance the home purchase.
Shop around for the best rate. Don’t settle for the first interest rate that a lender offers you. Check with at least three different lenders to see who offers the lowest interest. Also consider different types of lenders, such as credit unions and online lenders in addition to traditional banks.
Also take time to find out about different loan types. While the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most common type of mortgage, consider a shorter-term loan like a 15-year loan or an adjustable-rate mortgage. These types of loans often come with a lower rate than a conventional 30-year mortgage. Compare the costs of all to see which one best fits your needs and financial situation. Government loans — such as those backed by the Federal Housing Authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture — can be more affordable options for those who qualify.
Finally, lock in your rate. Locking your rate once you’ve found the right rate, loan product and lender will help guarantee your mortgage rate won’t increase before you close on the loan.
Our mortgage rate methodology
Money’s daily mortgage rates show the average rate offered by over 8,000 lenders across the United States the previous business day. Today, we are showing rates for Tuesday, March 16. Our rates reflect what a typical borrower with a 700 credit score might expect to pay for a home loan right now. These rates were offered to people putting 20% down and include discount points.
More from Money:
- Best Mortgage Lenders of 2021
- Mortgage Calculator by Money
- How to Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate: A Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage: A Step-by-Step Guide for Homebuyers
- Is Now a Good Time to Refinance My Mortgage? A Decision-Making Guide
- What Is an FHA Loan?
- You're Only Ready to Buy a House if You Can Answer 'Yes' to These 7 Questions
- Low Rates Are Putting 15-Year Mortgages — and Big Savings — Within Reach for Millions of Homeowners