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Buying a Home? Check Out Today's Mortgage Rates, Mar. 4

Money.com logo Money.com 3/4/2021 Leslie Cook
a small house in the background: Mortgage-Rate-Dec-2-illo © Money Mortgage-Rate-Dec-2-illo

Mortgage rates are down for the third day in a row. Rates declined across almost all loan types for both purchase mortgages and refinance mortgages. The sole exception is the 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage, which is slightly higher today for both purchase and refi.

As opposed to last week when interest rates increased daily, this week rates are trending downward, although it’s unlikely they’ll get as low as they were at the beginning of the year. Still, current rates are very favorable for people interested in buying a home and borrowers who have not recently refinanced a mortgage.

  • The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.354% today.
  • The average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.491% today.
  • The average rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 3.013% today.
  • The average rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.297% today.
  • The average rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 4.007% today.

Current 30-year fixed mortgage rates

  • Today’s 30-year rate is 3.354%.
  • That’s a one-day decrease of 0.029 percentage points.
  • That’s a one-month increase of 0.249percentage points.

The interest rate on fixed-rate mortgages won’t change throughout the full term of the loan. Consequently, the monthly payment on the loan won’t change either. A 30-year mortgage will be paid off in 360 months unless you pay more than your monthly payment, refinance the loan or sell your home.

A 30-year loan will have a higher interest rate than a shorter-term loan such as a 15-year, but because you’re spreading the payments out over a longer period of time, the monthly payments will be lower. However, you’ll pay more in overall interest compared to a 15-year loan because you’re paying a higher rate over more months.

The 30-year loan is the most common term among borrowers, making up 75% of the mortgage market.

View Rates for March 04, 2021
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Current 15-year fixed mortgage rate

  • Today’s 15-year rate is 2.491%.
  • That’s a one-day decrease of 0.001 percentage points.
  • That’s a one-month increase of 0.165 percentage points.

Just like with a 30-year mortgage, the interest rate on a 15-year loan won’t change over the life of the loan. The monthly payments won’t change either. A 15-year loan will be paid off in 180 months unless you pay more than the required payment every month, refinance the loan or sell.

Compared to a 30-year loan, the interest rate on a 15-year loan is typically lower. However, because you’re spreading the balance over a shorter period of time, the monthly payment will be higher. Still, you’ll pay less in total interest as you’re paying a lower rate over a shorter period of time.

Shorter-term loans like the 15-year are popular among borrowers who can afford the higher payments, want to save on interest and get out of debt faster.

Current 5/1 jumbo adjustable-rate mortgage rates

  • Today’s 5/1 ARM rate is 3.013%.
  • That’s a one-day increase of 0.113 percentage points.
  • That’s a one-month increase of 0.187 percentage points.

With an adjustable-rate mortgage, there will be an initial period where you will actually have a fixed interest rate. Once that period ends, the rate will generally reset annually and can either increase or decrease depending on market conditions. As a result, the monthly payment will initially be fixed but then will change according to fluctuations in the interest rate.

A 5/1 ARM means that the loan will have a fixed interest rate during the first five years of the loan and resent every year afterward. Other common loan terms are the 7/1 and the 10/1.

When compared to fixed-rate loans, a 5/1 ARM will have usually have a lower interest rate, at least during the initial fixed-rate period. The low interest rate makes ARMs attractive to borrowers who plan on selling the home before the fixed-rate period ends or don’t believe rates will increase in the long run.

Today’s VA, FHA and jumbo loan rates

The average rates for FHA, VA and jumbo loans are:

  • The latest rate on a 30-year FHA mortgage is 3.244%.
  • The latest rate on a 30-year VA mortgage is 3.343%.
  • The latest rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 3.554%.

Today’s mortgage refinance rates

The average rates for 30-year loans, 15- year loans and 5/1 jumbo ARMs are:

  • The latest refinance rate on a 30-year fixed-rate refinance is 3.718%.
  • The latest refinance rate on a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.79%.
  • The latest refinance rate on a 5/1 jumbo ARM is 3.391%.
  • The latest refinance rate on a 7/1 conforming ARM is 4.661%.
  • The latest refinance rate on a 10/1 conforming ARM is 4.534%.

View Rates for March 04, 2021
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Where are mortgage rates heading this year?

Mortgage rates sunk through 2020. Millions of homeowners responded to low mortgage rates by refinancing existing loans and taking out new ones. Many people bought homes they may not have been able to afford if rates were higher.

In January 2021, rates briefly dropped to the lowest levels on record, but trended higher through the month and into February.

Looking ahead, experts believe interest rates will rise more in 2021, but modestly. Factors that could influence rates include how quickly the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and when lawmakers can agree on another economic relief package. More vaccinations and stimulus from the government could lead to improved economic conditions, which would boost rates.

While mortgage rates are likely to rise this year, experts say the increase won’t happen overnight and it won’t be a dramatic jump. Rates should stay near historically low levels through the first half of the year, rising slightly later in the year. Even with rising rates, it will still be a favorable time to finance a new home or refinance.

Factors that influence mortgage rates include:

  • The Federal Reserve. The Fed took swift action when the pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020. The Fed announced plans to keep money moving through the economy by dropping the short-term Federal Fund interest rate to between 0% and 0.25%, which is as low as they go. The central bank also pledged to buy mortgage-backed securities and treasuries, propping up the housing finance market. The Fed has reaffirmed its commitment to these policies for the foreseeable future multiple times, most recently at a late January policy meeting.
  • The 10-year Treasury note. Mortgage rates move in lockstep with the yields on the government’s 10-year Treasury note. Yields dropped below 1% for the first time in March, and have been slowly rising since then. Currently, yields have been hovering above 1% since the beginning of the year, pushing interest rates slightly higher. On average, there is typically a 1.8 point “spread” between Treasury yields and benchmark mortgage rates.
  • The broader economy. Unemployment rates and change in gross domestic product are important indicators of the overall health of the economy. When employment and GDP growth are low, it means the economy is weak, which can push interest rates down. Thanks to the pandemic, unemployment levels reached all-time highs early last year and have not yet recovered. GDP also took a hit, and while it has bounced back somewhat, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Tips for getting the lowest mortgage rate possible

There is no universal mortgage rate that all borrowers receive. Qualifying for the lowest mortgage rates takes a little bit of work and will depend on both personal financial factors and market conditions.

Check your credit score and credit report. Errors or other red flags that may be dragging your credit score down. Borrowers with the highest credit scores are the ones who will get the best rates, so checking your credit report before you start the house-hunting process is key. Taking steps to fix errors will help you raise your score. If you have high credit card balances, paying them down can also provide a quick boost.

Save up money for a sizeable down payment. This will lower your loan-to-value ratio, which means how much of the home’s price the lender has to finance. A lower LTV usually translates to a lower mortgage rate. Lenders also like to see money that has been saved in an account for at least 60 days. It tells the lender you have the money to finance the home purchase.

Shop around for the best rate. Don’t settle for the first interest rate that a lender offers you. Check with at least three different lenders to see who offers the lowest interest. Also consider different types of lenders, such as credit unions and online lenders in addition to traditional banks.

Also take time to find out about different loan types. While the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most common type of mortgage, consider a shorter-term loan like a 15-year loan or an adjustable-rate mortgage. These types of loans often come with a lower rate than a conventional 30-year mortgage. Compare the costs of all to see which one best fits your needs and financial situation. Government loans — such as those backed by the Federal Housing Authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture — can be more affordable options for those who qualify.

Finally, lock in your rate. Locking your rate once you’ve found the right rate, loan product and lender will help guarantee your mortgage rate won’t increase before you close on the loan.

Our mortgage rate methodology

Money’s daily mortgage rates show the average rate offered by over 8,000 lenders across the United States the previous business day. Today, we are showing rates for Wednesday, March 3. Our rates reflect what a typical borrower with a 700 credit score might expect to pay for a home loan right now. These rates were offered to people putting 20% down and include discount points.

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