Today’s Mortgage Rates & Trends, Oct. 14, 2021

Rates Retreat From Near Four-Month Highs

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Average 30-year and 15-year mortgage rates reversed their uphill march, inching down from their highest levels in almost four months.

The average interest rate offered to homebuyers using a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular type of home loan, fell to 3.38% from 3.41% the previous business day. The average for a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 2.54% from 2.56% the previous business day. Both had been the highest since mid-June. Rates for other types of mortgages rose or held steady. 

Fixed mortgage rates tend to track 10-year Treasury yields, which usually rise as inflation fears mount, or in the pandemic era, when the Federal Reserve signals it may scale back emergency monetary support sooner than expected in order to control inflation. While yields are much higher since the Fed signaled last month that it was preparing to withdraw some pandemic support, they’ve fallen this week following a disappointing jobs report last Friday and signs that at least the pace of inflation increases isn’t accelerating

Keep in mind the average 30-year mortgage rate is still quite low by historic standards. According to a Freddie Mac measure that dates back much farther than our data, the 30-year hasn’t gone more than about half a percentage point higher than this winter’s record low at any point since then.

During the pandemic, the relatively low rates have bolstered buying power, allowing house hunters to buy more expensive homes with the same monthly budget and helping to fuel a fiercely competitive residential real estate boom that has only recently begun to cool slightly. For the same reasons, the recent uptick in rates has discouraged borrowing somewhat, with rate locks dropping 9.7% in September, according to mortgage data firm Black Knight.

Mortgage rates, like the rates on any loan, are going to depend on your credit score, with lower rates going to people with better scores, all else being equal. The rates shown reflect the average offered by more than 200 of the country’s top lenders, assuming the borrower has a FICO credit score of 700-759 (within the “good” or “very good” range) and a loan-to-value ratio of 80%.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Decline

A 30-year fixed mortgage is by far the most common type of mortgage because it offers a consistent and relatively low monthly payment. (Shorter-term fixed mortgages have higher payments because the borrowed money is paid back more quickly.) 

Besides conventional 30-year mortgages, some are backed by the Federal Housing Authority or the Department of Veterans Affairs. FHA loans offer borrowers with lower credit scores or a smaller down payment a better deal than they might otherwise get; VA loans let current or past members of the military and their families skip a down payment.

  • 30-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.38% from 3.41% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.27%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $442.37, or $6.07 more than a week ago.
  • 30-year fixed (FHA): The average rate fell to 3.17% from 3.19% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.07%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $430.83, or $5.44 more than a week ago.
  • 30-year fixed (VA): The average rate fell to 3.22% from 3.23% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.1%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments will cost about $433.56, or $6.54 more than a week ago.

All else being equal, a higher rate increases your monthly payment, but there are other parts of the equation. For example, if you know your monthly payment can’t be more than $2,000, you can get a $387,000 home at a 3.4% rate or a $380,000 home at a 3.6% rate. Both assume a 30-year loan, a 20% down payment, typical homeowners’ insurance costs, and property taxes, per our mortgage calculator.

15-Year Mortgage Rate Slips

The major advantage of a 15-year fixed mortgage is that it offers a lower interest rate than the 30-year and you’re paying off your loan more quickly, so your total borrowing costs are far lower. But for the same reason—that the loan is paid back over a shorter time frame—the monthly payments will be higher.

  • 15-year fixed: The average rate fell to 2.54%, down from 2.56% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.47%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $668.67, or $3.29 more than a week ago.

Besides fixed-rate mortgages, there are adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), where rates change based on a benchmark index tied to Treasury bonds or other interest rates. Most adjustable-rate mortgages are actually hybrids, where the rate is fixed for a period of time and then adjusted periodically. For example, a common type of ARM is a 5/1 loan, which has a fixed rate for five years (the “5” in “5/1”) and is then adjusted every one year (the “1”).

Jumbo Mortgage Rates Are Mixed 

Jumbo loans, which allow you to borrow bigger amounts for more expensive properties, tend to have slightly higher interest rates than loans for more standard amounts. Jumbo means over the limit that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are willing to buy from lenders, typically $548,250 for a single-family home (except in Hawaii, Alaska, and a few federally designated high-cost markets, where the limit is $822,375).

  • Jumbo 30-year fixed: The average rate remained at 3.5%, unchanged from the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.38%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $449.04, or $6.67 more than a week ago.
  • Jumbo 15-year fixed: The average rate rose to 3.23% from 3.17% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.12%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $701.70, or $5.33 more than a week ago.

Refinance Rates Fall

Refinancing an existing mortgage tends to be slightly more expensive than getting a new one, especially in a low-rate environment. 

  • 30-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to 3.52% from 3.54% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.4%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $450.16, or $6.68 more than a week ago.
  • 15-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to 2.65% from 2.66% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.57%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments at that rate will cost about $673.87, or $3.78 more than a week ago.

Methodology

Our rates for “today” reflect national averages provided by more than 200 of the country's top lenders one business day ago, and the “previous” is the rate provided the business day before that. Similarly, the week earlier references compare the data from five business days earlier (so bank holidays are excluded.) The rates assume a loan-to-value ratio of 80% and a borrower with a FICO credit score of 700 to 759—within the “good” to “very good” range. They’re representative of the rates customers would see in actual quotes from lenders, based on their qualifications, and may vary from advertised teaser rates.

Have a question, comment, or story to share? You can reach Diccon at dhyatt@thebalance.com.