Today’s Mortgage Rates & Trends, March 4, 2022

30-Year, 15-Year Continue String of Sharp Swings

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The average 30-year mortgage rate rose for a second day, almost reaching its recent high, after two days of sharp declines.

The average rate offered to homebuyers using a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage climbed to 4.40% from 4.25% the previous business day. The average for a 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.49% from 3.36% the previous business day. Their recent high points, hit last week, were 4.41% and 3.56%, respectively. 

Fixed mortgage rates tend to track the direction of 10-year Treasury yields, which usually rise with heightened inflation fears (and fall when those fears subside). Soaring inflation has generally pushed yields much higher this year, but they have been up and down a lot since the war between Russia and Ukraine began.  The war raises uncertainty about the economy, so the more the conflict grows, the more U.S. government debt is seen as a safe haven, lowering yields, analysts said. (Our rates were collected Thursday, so a steep decline in yields Friday would not have been reflected.) 

Even at their recent peaks, mortgages weren’t all that unaffordable by historic standards. According to a Freddie Mac measure that dates back farther than our data, both the 30-year and 15-year average about 1 percentage point higher than the record low reached last year. At the start of the 1990s, the average 30-year mortgage was around 10%.

During the pandemic, the relatively low rates 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 characterized by rapidly rising prices. But now that interest rates are spiking, the cost is increasingly putting homes out of reach for prospective buyers.

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%. They also assume the borrower doesn’t purchase any mortgage or “discount” points. Borrowers pay these points, or upfront fees, to obtain a lower interest rate, spending more initially to save in the long run. Whether or not you should pay points depends on how long you plan to keep the loan. Here’s how to calculate that.

30-Year Mortgage Rates Jump

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 rose to 4.4%, up from 4.25% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 4.36%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $500.76, or $2.36 more than a week ago.
  • 30-year fixed (FHA): The average rate rose to 4.25% from 4.03% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 4.34%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $491.94, or $5.28 less than a week ago.
  • 30-year fixed (VA): The average rate rose to 4.7% from 4.41% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 4.74%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments will cost about $518.64, or $2.40 less 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 could get a $383,500 home at a 3.5% rate or a $366,500 home at a 4% rate. Both assume a 30-year loan, a 20% down payment, typical homeowners’ insurance costs, and property taxes. To do the math specific to your situation, use our mortgage calculator below.

15-Year Mortgage Rate Rises 

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 rose to 3.49%, up from 3.36% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.52%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $714.39, or $1.48 less 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 Climb

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, and that limit went up in 2022. For a single-family home, it’s now $647,200 (except in Hawaii, Alaska, and a few federally designated high-cost markets, where the limit is $970,800).

  • Jumbo 30-year fixed: The average rate rose to 4.13% from 3.84% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.94%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $484.94, or $10.98 more than a week ago.
  • Jumbo 15-year fixed: The average rate rose to 3.84% from 3.4% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.52%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $731.70, or $15.83 more than a week ago.

Refinance Rates Increase

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 rose to 4.48% from 4.33% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 4.44%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $505.50, or $2.37 more than a week ago.
  • 15-year fixed: The average rate to refinance rose to 3.6% from 3.43% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.59%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $719.80, or $0.49 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.

Additional research by
David Rubin
David J. Rubin
Full Bio

David J. Rubin is a fact checker for The Balance with more than 30 years in editing and publishing. The majority of his experience lies within the legal and financial spaces. At legal publisher Matthew Bender & Co./LexisNexis, he was a manager of R&D, programmer analyst, and senior copy editor.

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Article Sources

  1. CNBC. “US 10-Year Treasury.” 

  2. Freddie Mac. “Mortgage Rates.”