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A mortgage rate is the annual interest that a homeowner owes on their total mortgage loan balance. Put simply, it reflects how much the borrower pays to take out their mortgage loan.
A mortgage is a loan that is secured by property that is being purchased. In the event the borrower can’t repay the mortgage, the lender can use the underlying property to try and recoup the remaining balance on the mortgage.
Buying a home is generally the largest purchase that most people make. Understanding mortgage loans is critical. Getting the right mortgage for your situation can significantly impact your overall financial situation and can help you make the home of your dreams an affordable reality.
While mortgage lenders’ requirements have grown significantly stricter in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to extremely low-interest rates on mortgages. Recently, the rates have been steadily rising.
|Mortgage Type||Today's Average Mortgage Rate||Yesterday's Average Mortgage Rate||Mortgage Rate 3 Months Ago||Mortgage Rate 1 Year Ago|
|Purchase 30-year fixed||6.994%||6.807%||6.706%||5.771%|
|Purchase 15-year fixed||6.338%||6.482%||6.482%||4.58%|
|Refinance 30-year fixed||6.218%||6.895%||6.807%||5.337%|
|Refinance 15-year fixed||5.719%||6.5%||6.456%||4.482%|
Mortgage rates can vary widely depending on various criteria, such as your credit history and the value of your new home, along with market conditions.
Even under normal conditions, buying a house presents challenges of one sort of another for buyers. Buying a house in 2023 comes with a number of challenges.
One factor has been a dwindling supply of homes in some parts of the country. This stems from a combination of some sellers taking their home off the market and increased demand for homes in many areas. In some cases, sellers may have decided that this isn’t a good time to move, or perhaps they’ve encountered a financial situation that has led to this decision. Due to the pandemic, many families have decided to move out of congested urban areas and into suburban areas. In many cases, the lower supply and increased demand have resulted in higher prices and stiff competition.
The economic fallout from COVID-19 has impacted the mortgage market in the form of stricter requirements from many lenders. Perhaps having learned from the financial crisis of 2008, many lenders have tightened their lending standards.
These more stringent requirements vary by lender, but some examples are:
The bottom line for home buyers is that these tougher requirements may require more shopping to obtain an affordable mortgage.
Choosing the right lender takes a fair amount of research and requires a thorough review of your situation before you even start your search. For example, if you are a first-time buyer, some lenders might be better than others for your situation. Other factors that can help determine the right lender for your situation might include:
The key factors to consider when starting your search include:
The types of lenders you might consider include:
In some cases, it might make sense to work with a mortgage broker who can help you look across the mortgage lender spectrum and can often help you obtain a suitable deal. Some online mortgage sites offer access to several different lenders, much like a traditional mortgage broker.
A mortgage application is a longer process than most other financial transactions that you might engage in. It’s essential to be prepared with the required documents and information before completing the application. This includes:
Additionally, the lender will run a credit check on to obtain your credit score. They will also ensure that the property you are looking to finance is actually worth the purchase price.
Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about mortgage rates
Not all mortgage rates are created equal. There are different types, and each has their own benefits, including:
A fixed interest rate is one that remains the same throughout the entire time you are paying off the loan. The rate is predetermined, so if you like consistency and want to know exactly what you’ll be paying, this is the better option for you.
Variable rates fluctuate during the course of the loan based on the current index value. The rate can fluctuate, and go up or down depending on the market. People who want to try to save some money on their loan can opt for a variable rate. If the rate goes down, you'll make a lower monthly payment for that period.
These rates are charged on an upward curve, meaning you pay less each month at the beginning of the loan and gradually increase your monthly payments as the loan progresses. The actual interest rate doesn’t change, but the total amount you pay will decrease because you will be paying off more of the loan as time goes on.
Comparing mortgage rates is one way to save money on your home loan. If you accept the first offer you see, you may regret it later. With so much competition in the lending industry today, you can usually find a lower rate if you do a little price comparison.
The easiest way to find low rates is to shop around. This is really easy in today’s internet-driven world. There are loan calculators, comparison tools, lender portals, and more all designed to help you line up offers to see which is giving you the right deal.
In simple terms, mortgage rates are set by the secondary mortgage market. This marketplace is where investors buy off mortgages from the lenders in order to receive a return on investment (i.e., your monthly payments+interest). The higher the interest rate, the more appealing it is to investors. However, too high, and potential borrowers won’t want to borrow from that lender. So, it is a balance between the two that sets the actual rates. Other factors include inflation, Federal Reserves prices, and US treasury rates.
The rate that you are given is dependent on several factors, including the lender, the value of the house, and your current financial situation. The most important factor, though, is your credit score. Your credit score doesn’t just determine whether or not you’ll qualify for a loan at all, but it also sets the bar for what type of interest rates you’ll be offered. The better your credit score, the better the interest rates you are going to see on offer. What qualifies as a good rate for someone with poor credit will not be considered a good rate for someone who has excellent credit.
As a matter of fact, the lowest rate doesn’t always indicate the right mortgage for you. There are various other factors to consider, such as the reputation of the lender, length of repayment plan, customer service, and other terms that apply to the loan. The combination of all of these factors will give you a good mortgage loan in general, and more importantly, the right loan for your specific situation. For example, someone who wants to take out a loan and pay it off over 30 years will not be well-served by a company that only offers 20-year repayment terms, even if it is offering competitive interest rates. Consider all the factors involved in the loan and not just the interest rate before deciding on a lender.