Mortgage rates moved in different directions today, but one key rate trended down. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ticked downwards, but the average rate on a 15-year fixed held firm. Meanwhile, the average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages notched higher.
Rates for mortgages are in a constant state of flux, but they continue to represent a bargain compared to rates before the Great Recession. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it could make sense to lock if you see a rate you like. Just make sure you’ve looked around for the best rate first.
30-year fixed mortgages
The average rate for the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.03 percent, a decrease of 8 basis points from a week ago. Last month on the 20th, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was higher, at 3.13 percent.
At the current average rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $423.22 for every $100,000 you borrow. That’s $4.34 lower, compared with last week.
You can use Bankrate’s mortgage payment calculator to figure out your monthly payments and see how much you’ll save by adding extra payments. It will also help you calculate how much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
15-year fixed mortgages
The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 2.64 percent, unchanged over the last week.
Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $673 per $100,000 borrowed. The bigger payment may be a little tougher to find room for in your monthly budget than a 30-year mortgage payment would, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much more rapidly.
The average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 3.37 percent, rising 5 basis points from a week ago.
These types of loans are best for people who expect to refinance or sell before the first or second adjustment. Rates could be materially higher when the loan first adjusts, and thereafter.
Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 3.37 percent would cost about $442 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could ratchet higher by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.
Where rates are headed
To see where Bankrate’s panel of experts expect rates to go from here, check out our rate trends page.
Want to see where rates are currently? Lenders nationwide respond to Bankrate.com’s weekday mortgage rates survey to bring you the most current rates available. Here you can see the latest marketplace average rates for a wide variety of purchase loans:
|30-year fixed jumbo||3.05%||3.17%||-0.12|
|30-year fixed refinance||3.24%||3.22%||+0.02|
Rates as of August 20, 2020.
Should you lock a mortgage rate?
A rate lock guarantees your interest rate for a specified period of time. Lenders often offer 30-day rate locks for a nominal fee or roll the price of the lock into your loan. Some lenders will lock rates for longer periods, sometimes for more than 60 days, but those locks can be costly. In today’s volatile market, some lenders will lock an interest rate for only two weeks to avoid unnecessary risk.
With a rate lock, if interest rates rise, you’re locked into the guaranteed rate. You may be able to find a lender that offers a floating rate lock. A floating rate lock lets you get a lower rate if interest rates decline before closing your loan. It could be worth the cost in a declining rate environment. Because mortgage rates are not predictable, there’s no guarantee that rates will stay where they are from week to week or even day to day. So, if you can lock in a low rate, then you should do so rather than gamble on interest rates falling even lower.
Remember: During the pandemic, all aspects of real estate and mortgage closings are taking much longer than usual. Expect the closing on a new mortgage to take at least 60 days, with refinancing taking at least a month.
Factors that influence mortgage rates
A number of economic factors influence mortgage rates. Among them are inflation and unemployment. Higher inflation typically leads to higher mortgage rates. The opposite is also true; when inflation is low, mortgage rates typically are as well. As inflation increases, the dollar loses value. That drives investors away from mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which causes the prices to decrease and yields to increase. When yields move higher, rates become more expensive for borrowers.
Generally speaking, when the economy is strong, more people buy homes. That drives demand for mortgages. Increased demand for mortgages can cause rates to increase. The opposite is also true; less demand can lead to lower rates.
Current mortgage rate landscape
Mortgage rates have been volatile because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Generally, though, rates have been low. Mortgage rates are rising and falling from week to week, as lenders are inundated with forbearance and refinance requests. In general, however, rates are consistently below 4 percent and even dipping into the mid to low 3s. This is an especially good time for people with good to excellent credit to lock in a low rate for a purchase loan. However, lenders are also raising credit standards for borrowers and demanding higher down payments as they try to dampen their risks.
Methodology: The rates you see above are Bankrate.com Site Averages. These calculations are run after the close of the previous business day and include rates and/or yields we have collected that day for a specific banking product. Bankrate.com site averages tend to be volatile — they help consumers see the movement of rates day to day. The institutions included in the “Bankrate.com Site Average” tables will be different from one day to the next, depending on which institutions’ rates we gather on a particular day for presentation on the site.
BY ZACH WICHTER