A variety of significant mortgage rates moved up over the last seven days. The average interest rates for both 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed mortgages both increased. We also saw an upswing in the average rate of 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
After nearly a year of rising mortgage rates, borrowers finally saw some relief late last year. Rates have declined since they hit their peak in late 2022, though current rates remain nearly double what they were during the record-low rate environment of the pandemic.
Inflation, and the series of rate hikes the Federal Reserve implemented in 2022 in an attempt to curb it, contributed in part to the rise in mortgage rates. Mortgage rates hit a 20-year high in late 2022, but now the macroeconomic environment is changing again.
Overall inflation remains high but has been slowly but consistently falling every month since it peaked in June 2022. The Fed’s decision to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25% on Feb. 1 after its latest meeting — the smallest increase since March 2022 — suggests that inflation may be cooling and the central bank may be able to ease up on its rate hikes.
What does this mean for homebuyers this year? Mortgage rates are likely to decrease slightly in 2023, although they’re highly unlikely to return to the rock-bottom levels of 2020 and 2021. However, rate volatility may continue for some time. “Expect mortgage rates to yo-yo up and down in the first half of the year, at least until there is a consensus about when the Fed will conclude raising interest rates,” says Greg McBride, CFA and chief financial analyst at Bankrate. (Like CNET Money, Bankrate is owned by Red Ventures.) McBride expects rates to fall more consistently as the year progresses. “Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates will end the year near 5.25%,” he predicts.
Rather than worrying about market mortgage rates, homebuyers should focus on what they can control: getting the best rate they can for their situation. Take steps to improve your credit score and save for a down payment to increase your odds of qualifying for the lowest rate available. Also, be sure to compare the rates and fees from multiple lenders to get the best deal. Looking at the annual percentage rate, or APR, will show you the total cost of borrowing and help you compare apples to apples.
30-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average interest rate for a standard 30-year fixed mortgage is 7.12%, which is a growth of 18 basis points from one week ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) Thirty-year fixed mortgages are the most common loan term. A 30-year fixed mortgage will often have a greater interest rate than a 15-year fixed rate mortgage, but also a lower monthly payment. Although you’ll pay more interest over time — you’re paying off your loan over a longer timeframe — if you’re looking for a lower monthly payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage may be a good option.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average rate for a 15-year, fixed mortgage is 6.33%, which is an increase of 11 basis points compared to a week ago. You’ll definitely have a larger monthly payment with a 15-year fixed mortgage compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage, even if the interest rate and loan amount are the same. But a 15-year loan will usually be the better deal, if you’re able to afford the monthly payments. These include typically being able to get a lower interest rate, paying off your mortgage sooner, and paying less total interest in the long run.
5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages
A 5/1 ARM has an average rate of 5.83%, a climb of 13 basis points from seven days ago. For the first five years, you’ll usually get a lower interest rate with a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage. However, changes in the market could cause your interest rate to increase after that time, as detailed in the terms of your loan. For borrowers who plan to sell or refinance their house before the rate changes, an ARM might be a good option. Otherwise, changes in the market mean your interest rate might be significantly higher once the rate adjusts.
Mortgage rate trends
Mortgage rates were historically low throughout most of 2020 and 2021 but increased steadily throughout 2022. The Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate — which influences the cost of most consumer loans, including mortgages — seven times in 2022 in an attempt to curb record-high inflation. Though the Fed doesn’t directly control mortgage rates, higher inflation and a higher federal funds rate tend to lead to higher mortgage rates.
The Fed’s latest 0.25% increase — smaller than its six previous increases of 0.75% or 0.5% — represents a shift in the Fed’s stance and suggests that the central bank might be less aggressive in its rate hikes in 2023 if inflation continues to come down. But inflation is still far from the Fed’s 2% target range and Fed officials have stated repeatedly (PDF) that additional rate hikes — albeit smaller ones — will be necessary. All said, while we may see mortgage rates pull back gradually this year, borrowers shouldn’t expect a sharp drop or a return to pandemic lows.
We use information collected by Bankrate, which is owned by the same parent company as CNET, to track rate changes over time. This table summarizes the average rates offered by lenders across the US:
Average mortgage interest rates
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||7.17%||6.96%||+0.21|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||7.19%||7.03%||+0.16|
Rates as of March 3, 2023.
How to find personalized mortgage rates
To find a personalized mortgage rate, meet with your local mortgage broker or use an online mortgage service. When shopping around for home mortgage rates, think about your goals and current financial situation.
Things that affect the mortgage interest rate you might get include: your credit score, down payment, loan-to-value ratio and your debt-to-income ratio. Generally, you want a higher credit score, a larger down payment, a lower DTI and a lower LTV to get a lower interest rate.
Beyond the mortgage interest rate, additional costs including closing costs, fees, discount points and taxes might also affect the cost of your house. Be sure to speak with several different lenders — like local and national banks, credit unions and online lenders — and comparison shop to find the best mortgage for you.
How does the loan term impact my mortgage?
When picking a mortgage, you should consider the loan term, or payment schedule. The most common loan terms are 15 years and 30 years, although 10-, 20- and 40-year mortgages also exist. Mortgages are further divided into fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. The interest rates in a fixed-rate mortgage are stable for the duration of the loan. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rates for an adjustable-rate mortgage are only fixed for a certain amount of time (usually five, seven or 10 years). After that, the rate changes annually based on the market interest rate.
One thing to consider when choosing between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage is how long you plan on staying in your house. For people who plan on living long-term in a new house, fixed-rate mortgages may be the better option. Fixed-rate mortgages offer greater stability over time in comparison to adjustable-rate mortgages, but adjustable-rate mortgages can sometimes offer lower interest rates upfront. However, you may get a better deal with an adjustable-rate mortgage if you only intend to keep your home for a few years. The best loan term is entirely dependent on your specific situation and goals, so be sure to take into consideration what’s important to you when choosing a mortgage.