Today's Mortgage Rates Slip | March 23, 2021
Today's mortgage rates are mixed. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase loan is down slightly, but remains above 3.6%. Other loan types are a touch higher than yesterday. Rates for refinance loans were also mixed, with rates for 30 and 15-year fixed-rate loans edging up.
After a week of steady increases, rates essentially paused today. For borrowers who want to buy a house or refinance a loan, now's a good time to find favorable rates.
- The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.624% today.
- The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.697% today.
- The average rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 2.993% today.
- The average rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.682% today.
- The average rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 4.912% today.
30-year fixed mortgage rates today
- The 30-year rate is 3.624%.
- That's a one-day decrease of 0.007 percentage points.
- That's a one-month increase of 0.325 percentage points.
With a 30-year fixed-rate loan both the interest rate and monthly payments will remain the same over the life of the loan. By paying the required monthly amount, you will pay off the loan in 360 months. The length of time you are paying for your home will change if you pay extra, refinance the loan or sell your house.
Compared to a shorter-term loan, the interest rate on a 30-year mortgage is usually higher but the monthly payment is lower because the balance is divided over more months. By paying a higher interest rate over a longer period of time, you end up pay more in overall interest.
Most home loan borrowers go with a 30-year mortgage because of the lower monthly payments.
15-year fixed mortgage rates today
- The 15-year rate is 2.692%.
- That's a one-day increase of 0.005 percentage points.
- That's a one-month increase of 0.205 percentage points.
Both the interest rate and the monthly payment will be constant with a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Unless you pay more than the required monthly amount, refinance the loan, or sell the home, the mortgage will be paid off in 180 months.
The interest rate on a 15-year loan will be lower than that on a longer-term loan but the monthly payments will be higher because the debt is being paid over a shorter time. However, by paying a lower rate over a shorter term, you'll save total interest over the life of the loan.
For many borrowers who can afford the higher payments, a 15-year loan is attractive because you can save on interest and pay the debt off faster.
5/1 jumbo adjustable-rate mortgage rates today
- The 5/1 ARM rate is 2.993%.
- That's a one-day increase of 0.002 percentage points.
- That's a one-month increase of 0.051 percentage points.
The interest rate and monthly payments on an adjustable-rate mortgage will actually be fixed for an initial period of time. Once that period ends, the rate will change annually in response to market conditions. As a result, the required monthly payment will change according to changes in the rates.
As an example, a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage will have a fixed rate during the first five years and then reset every year afterward. Other common ARM terms include a 7/1 and 10/1. ARMs have a full term of 30 years.
The initial interest rate on a 5/1 ARM is usually among the lowest in the market, making it attractive to borrowers who don't plan on staying in the home beyond the first five years. Borrowers who do keep the loan beyond that period of time should be aware that the interest rate could increase significantly at some point.
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 3.493%.
- The rate on a 30-year VA mortgage is 3.544%.
- The rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 3.729%.
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 3.894%.
- The refinance rate on a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 3.027%.
- The refinance rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 3.568%.
- The refinance rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.808%.
- The refinance rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 5.089%.
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 Monday, March 22. 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.
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