Investor Alert

Oct. 20, 2021, 3:03 p.m. EDT

Here are the latest mortgage rates — and experts weigh in: Is now the time for you to buy a home?

Alisa Wolfson

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Mortgage rates remain low: The average interest rate on a fixed rate 30-year mortgage now sits at 3.21% (the average annual percentage rate is 3.37%), and on a 15-year fixed rate mortgage it drops down to to 2.47% (the APR is 2.71%), according to data that Bankrate released today. For those with excellent credit and other qualifying factors, you can likely find rates even lower: There are now some 15-year rates near 2% and some 30-year rates below 3%, as you can see here and in the below table.

What do these mortgage interest rates mean?

Mortgage rates remain near historic lows, and today’s rates are roughly in line with recent rates for the month, as this table reveals.

 30-year fixed-rate loan 15-year fixed-rate loan
10/19 3.`23% interest rate / 3.39% APR 2.47% interest rate / 2.71% APR
10/18 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.46% / 2.69%
10/15 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.42% / 2.66%
10/14 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.46% / 2.71%
10/13 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.46% / 2.71%
10/12 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.46% / 2.71%
10/11 3.`23% / 3.39% 2.46% / 2.71%
10/8 3.`18% / 3.35% 2.44% / 2.69%
10/7 3.`19% / 3.36% 2.44% / 2.70%
10/6 3.`18% / 3.35% 2.43% / 2.69%
10/5 3.16% / 3.32% 2.42% / 2.68%
10/4 3.16% / 3.33% 2.42% / 2.68%
10/1 3.22% / 3.39% 2.50% / 2.76%

Source: Bankrate Fluctuations in mortgage interest rates are common — and can occur because of a variety of things, such as inflation, economic growth and monetary policy changes. Most fluctuations are small, but “a quarter point move in the span of a couple weeks would be significant,” explains Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.

How much does the interest rate really matter?

While a difference of 1% may not sound like a lot, it can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. On a $300,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 3% vs. a 4% APR, you’d end up paying more than $60,000 more for the mortgage at the higher rate.  Here’s a guide on whether or not you should buy points to lower your mortgage interest rate.

Will mortgage rates increase soon?

Of course nobody has a crystal ball, but some experts expect mortgage rates to rise in the next year or so. McBride says much will hinge on what happens with inflation, but if the general backdrop is one of higher inflation, he predicts: “An economy growing faster than the trend rate of growth and the Fed tapering their bond purchases down to zero is all suggestive of higher rates.” Denny Ceizyk, senior writer at LendingTree states, also sees inflation playing a role: “At some point, inflation pressures could push mortgage rates higher.” 

Is now a good time to buy a home?

There’s been a lot of change in the housing market in the last year and a half so Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, says he thinks it’s foolhardy to forecast how housing prices will change. “It’s best not to try to time the market. If you wait on the expectation that prices will fall in a year or two, you might be disappointed.” Instead, buy now if you’re sure you’re ready and you can afford a home … it’s a highly personal question without a one-size-fits-all answer,” says Lewis.And Denny Ceizyk, LendingTree’s senior staff writer for mortgage, recently told Marketplace that the decision of whether to buy now depends on whether you’re financially prepared for homeownership and how long you plan to live in the home you’re buying, because even if home prices dip, they generally recover in the long run. “While home prices are rising, interest rates remain [near] 60-year lows, making it much more affordable to buy higher-priced homes. At some point, inflation pressures could push mortgage rates higher, which argues for buying sooner than later,” says Ceizyk. But others disagree: Nicole Bachaud, economic data analyst at Zillow, recently told us: “The market today is very competitive and bidding wars are common in many areas of the country. With inventory trending up, waiting to buy could mean a more balanced market between buyers and sellers.” That said, if you’re ready to buy and stay long term, these may be some of the best mortgage rates you’ll get. But be sure to shop around to get the best rates ( you can find some 15-year rates near 2% and some 30-year rates below 3%, as you can see here) , and find a home you can afford without too much stress on your budget. It’s also important to consider other costs like closing costs (these tend to run roughly 2-5% of the cost of the loan), insurance and property taxes. 

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