A few important mortgage rates increased quite quickly over the last seven days. The average interest rates for both 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed mortgages made gains, and average rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages also increased.
On the heels of cooling inflation, the Federal Reserve announced on May 3 a 25-basis-point increase to its benchmark short-term interest rate. The Fed’s May meeting marks what could be the last increase we see for the time being. The central bank has signaled that it may soon be time to pause on rate hikes. Depending on incoming inflation data, the next step would be to hold rates where they are for an extended period of time in order to bring inflation down to its 2% target.
As long as inflation continues to trend downward, experts say a pause in rate hikes from the Fed could bring some stability to today’s volatile mortgage rate market.
Mortgages hit a 20-year high in late 2022, but now the macroeconomic environment is changing again. Rates dipped significantly in January before climbing back up in February. Throughout March and April, rates fluctuated in the 6% range.
“Ultimately, more certainty about the Fed’s actions will help to smooth out some of the volatility we have seen with mortgage rates,” says Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American Financial Corporation.
While rates don’t directly track changes to the federal funds rate, they do respond to inflation. Overall, inflation remains high but has been slowly but consistently falling every month since it peaked in June 2022.
After raising rates dramatically in 2022, the Fed opted for smaller, 25-basis-point rate increases in its first three meetings of 2023. The decision to hike by 0.25% on May 3 suggests that inflation is cooling and the central bank may soon be able to pause its rate hiking regime. While the central bank is unlikely to cut rates any time soon, positive signaling from the Fed and cooling inflation may ease some of the upward pressure on mortgage rates.
“If inflation keeps coming down, that will be the biggest driver, outside of the Fed, that’s really going to help bring rates down to a better level and improve affordability for home buyers,” says Scott Haymore, head of capital markets and mortgage pricing at TD Bank.
However, mortgage rates remain well above where they were a year ago. Fewer buyers are willing to jump into the housing market, driving demand down and causing home prices in some regions to ease, but that’s only part of the home affordability equation.
“Even though home prices in many parts of the country have fallen since the start of the year, high rates make buying prohibitively expensive for many,” says Jacob Channel, senior economist at loan marketplace LendingTree. It’s still difficult for many buyers, particularly those looking for their first home, to afford a monthly payment.
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.
“The most important thing is that they find the right home. The second most important thing is obviously to find the most efficient way to finance it,” says Melissa Cohn, regional vice president of William Raveis Mortgage.
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
For a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, the average rate you’ll pay is 7.15%, which is a growth of 16 basis points compared to one week ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) Thirty-year fixed mortgages are the most frequently used loan term. A 30-year fixed mortgage will usually have a higher interest rate than a 15-year fixed rate mortgage — but also a lower monthly payment. You won’t be able to pay off your house as quickly and you’ll pay more interest over time, but a 30-year fixed mortgage is a good option if you’re looking to minimize your monthly payment.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average rate for a 15-year, fixed mortgage is 6.58%, which is an increase of 20 basis points from seven days ago. Compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage, a 15-year fixed mortgage with the same loan value and interest rate will have a larger monthly payment. But a 15-year loan will usually be the better deal, as long as you can 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 6.01%, a rise of 16 basis points compared to last week. With an adjustable-rate mortgage mortgage, you’ll typically get a lower interest rate than a 30-year fixed mortgage for the first five years. However, you may end up paying more after that time, depending on the terms of your loan and how the rate adjusts with the market rate. Because of this, an adjustable-rate mortgage could be a good option if you plan to sell or refinance your house before the rate changes. If not, changes in the market could significantly increase your interest rate.
Mortgage rate trends
Mortgage rates were historically low throughout most of 2020 and 2021 but increased steadily throughout 2022. Now, mortgage rates are roughly twice what they were a year ago, pushed up by persistently high inflation. That high inflation prompted the Fed to raise its target federal funds rate seven times in 2022. By raising rates, the Fed makes it more expensive to borrow money and more appealing to keep money in savings, suppressing demand for goods and services.
Mortgage interest rates don’t move in lockstep with the Fed’s actions in the same way that, say, rates for a home equity line of credit do. But they do respond to inflation. As a result, cooling inflation data and positive signals from the Fed will influence mortgage rate movement more than the most recent 25-basis-point rate hike.
We use data collected by Bankrate to track daily mortgage rate trends. This table summarizes the average rates offered by lenders nationwide:
Average mortgage interest rates
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||7.17%||7.04%||+0.13|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||7.21%||7.09%||+0.12|
Rates as of May 26, 2023.
How to find personalized mortgage rates
When you are ready to apply for a loan, you can connect with a local mortgage broker or search online. In order to find the best home mortgage, you’ll need to take into account your goals and overall financial situation.
A range of factors — including your down payment, credit score, loan-to-value ratio and debt-to-income ratio — will all affect the interest rate on your mortgage. Having a good credit score, a larger down payment, a low DTI, a low LTV or any combination of those factors can help you get a lower interest rate.
Besides the mortgage rate, factors including closing costs, fees, discount points and taxes might also impact the cost of your house. Make sure to shop around with multiple lenders — for example, credit unions and online lenders in addition to local and national banks — in order to get a loan that’s right for you.
How does the loan term impact my mortgage?
When picking a mortgage, remember to consider the loan term, or payment schedule. The most common mortgage terms are 15 years and 30 years, although 10-, 20- and 40-year mortgages also exist. Another important distinction is between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. The interest rates in a fixed-rate mortgage are the same for the duration of the loan. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rates for an adjustable-rate mortgage are only stable for a certain amount of time (usually five, seven or 10 years). After that, the rate fluctuates annually based on the market interest rate.
When choosing between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage, you should consider how long you plan to live in your home. For those who plan on staying long-term in a new house, fixed-rate mortgages may be the better option. Fixed-rate mortgages offer more stability over time in comparison to adjustable-rate mortgages, but adjustable-rate mortgages can sometimes offer lower interest rates upfront. However, you might get a better deal with an adjustable-rate mortgage if you only plan to keep your home for a couple years. The best loan term is entirely dependent on your situation and goals, so be sure to consider what’s important to you when choosing a mortgage.