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Historical Mortgage Rates: Averages and Trends

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After nearly two years of record-low mortgage rates, 2022 started off with rates nearly rising to levels we haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

That doesn’t mean you need to cancel your plans to refinance your mortgage or purchasing home. 

There’s a lot more that goes into the decision than just your interest rate, but rising rates will factor into your decision.

A recovering U.S. economy and supply chain issues helped drive inflation to levels we haven’t seen in decades. To keep inflation in check, the Federal Reserve has announced its intentions to raise short-term interest rates and began unwinding its support of the bond market, which helped keep rates low. The main drivers for mortgage rates in 2022 will be, “growth, plus inflation, plus the Fed, really in a nutshell that’s what’s going to be driving rates,” Joel Kan, an economist with the Mortgage Bankers Association, told NextAdvisor.

Many experts have forecast mortgage rates to rise in 2022, and rates have already exceeded the levels some predicted they wouldn’t touch until the end of the year. Let’s take a look at the past few years of historical mortgage rate trends and break down what that means for you.

Historical Mortgage Rate Averages Since 2019

About These Rates

These rate averages are based on weekday mortgage rate information provided by national lenders to Bankrate.com, which is owned by the same parent company as NextAdvisor. These marketplace average rates for a variety of refinance loan types are updated daily, though it is possible rates have changed since this was last updated.

Expert Take on Current Mortgage Rates

The surge in mortgage rates so far this year is due to a variety of economic factors. Persistently high inflation is a big one, Jacob Channel, senior economic analyst at LendingTree told us. The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in May shows 8.6% inflation and the highest in 40 years. In response, the Federal Reserve increased its benchmark short-term interest rate to combat that inflation. The Fed raised rates by 50 basis points in May and by 75 points in June, since inflation remained higher than expected.

Recently, we saw mortgage rates surge after the inflation report and ahead of the Fed’s announcement. “I think what we’re seeing is that lenders had already anticipated that the Fed was going to raise the fed funds rate by 75 basis points and they began to preemptively push mortgage rates up,” Jacob Channel, senior economist at LendingTree, told us.

Financial markets are still responding to other global factors that can affect the economy, namely China’s COVID lockdown and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “​​We have a lot of factors like that that are putting upward pressure on mortgage rates,” Channel says. “The volatility has been through the roof,” Shashank Shekhar, founder and CEO of InstaMortgage, told us. “The market has been adjusting to a new news cycle practically every single day.”

History of the 30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate

This chart, which uses data from a survey by Freddie Mac that differs slightly but generally tracks with the Bankrate survey used by NextAdvisor, offers a glimpse at how today’s rates compare with the past two decades. According to the chart, mortgage rates are up from the historically low years of 2020 and 2021, but they still aren’t high if you zoom out more than a few years.

What Can Homebuyers Do About Rising Mortgage Rates?

There is a lot to consider when deciding whether or not it’s the right time for you to purchase a home, and your mortgage rate is only one small part. Before you start house shopping, figure out your homebuying budget. Getting preapproved for a mortgage will give you a good idea of how much you can borrow. You’ll also want to save for a down payment, closing costs, and the unexpected expenses that come with owning a home. A higher mortgage rate leads to a higher monthly payment, which can eat into your total buying power. But, experts also point out that these 5.5+% rates we are seeing right now are still considered normal from a historical perspective. It was only a few short years ago when a “good rate” was around 5%. 

Rising mortgage rates also mean the rate you might be quoted one day could be significantly different than one you get the next day. Experts caution against trying to time the market to get the best rate. “If you think you’re going to like the rate, lock it,” Jennifer Beeston, senior vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, told us. “Because it’s probably going to change in 20 minutes.”

Be sure to get quotes from different lenders to ensure you’re getting the best deal, experts say. “The rate highly impacts your monthly affordability for as long as you will hold this home,” Skylar Olsen, principal economist at Tomo, a digital real estate and mortgage company, told us. “It is actually a critical piece of this decision, and that takes shopping around.”

What to Do About Rising Home Prices

When thinking about your mortgage rate, it’s also important to consider what’s happening to housing prices. According to data from Realtor.com, the median U.S. home listing price was $447,000 in May 2022, another all-time high. Experts say the big uptick in prices is due to a mismatch between supply and demand: There are a lot of people trying to buy houses, and there aren’t enough houses to go around. That means you probably shouldn’t wait around and hope for the market to crash. “I don’t think buyers should be betting on any really significant price declines,” Robert Dietz, chief economist at the National Association of Home Builders, told us

What you can do is think beyond just the mortgage rate. Be sure you’re in a good position to buy a house. “The most important thing that any would-be homebuyer should do is take stock of where they are personally,” said Channel. “Do I have enough cash to make my mortgage payments, to put money down on a down payment? Is my credit score good?” Then, be patient and be creative with your home search. Don’t rush for the first houses you see, he says. Look in unexpected places. One possibility is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s page of foreclosed homes. “The more you plan and the more diligent you are before you really even start going out house hunting actively, the easier it is to navigate a housing market that is as hot and fast as this one,” Channel says.

It’s more important than ever to shop around for a mortgage when you’re in the market for a house, said Channel. When rates aren’t going up as dramatically as they are now, quotes from different lenders can regularly vary by half a percentage point. With the market moving so quickly, that could be even higher. 

NextAdvisor’s Top 10 Mortgage Lenders. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Are Mortgage Interest Rates Going to Rise?

We are likely to see volatile mortgage rate trends from month to month. However, the general consensus for 2022 is that rates will rise. So far, that is exactly what they’ve done.

When assessing today’s mortgage rates, it’s important to look at them from a historical perspective. Although rates are now near their prepandemic levels, they remain historically favorable compared to the 5% to 6% average rates we saw just 15 years ago.

 

What Are Mortgage Interest Rates Based On?

No government entity sets or directly regulates mortgage rates. Rather, they’re based on a number of broader market factors. Everything from the demand for housing, inflation, and the overall health of the economy can influence mortgage rates — as well as refinance rates.

Typically, when the economy is strong and unemployment rates are low, rates will rise because demand is higher. But during an economic downturn rates tend to dip. This is why the economic impact of COVID variants is important to pay attention to when it comes to understanding mortgage rate trends.

Monetary policies set by the Federal Reserve can also have a significant impact on mortgage rates, even though they don’t directly set rates. When the Federal Reserve lowers the federal funds rate or purchases large quantities of treasury bonds, it puts downward pressure on mortgage rates.

How Does a Mortgage Rates Affect My Monthly Payment?

Your monthly mortgage payment typically comprises mortgage, interest, and escrow payments. And what on the surface may look like a small increase in your interest rate, can have a big impact on your bottom line. So it’s important to compare mortgage lenders to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Example on a 30-year loan:

A 0.5% rate increase on a $250,000 loan balance could cost $71 more a month and over $25,000 extra in interest over the life of the loan.

Loan Term: 30 years

Loan Balance: $250,000

Interest Rate: 4%

Monthly Payment: $1,193

Total Cost: $429,853

Same Loan as above, except with a 3.5% interest rate:

Monthly Payment: $1,122

Total Cost:  $404,308

Difference Per Month: $71

Difference over loan life: $25,545

How Does Credit Score Affect My Rate?

Aside from macroeconomic factors that are out of your control, your personal situation will also influence the interest rate you’re eligible for. Your down payment and credit score can have a big impact on your mortgage rate.

Lenders set mortgage rates based on how risky they determine a loan to be. So having a lower credit score, or smaller down payment will increase the rate you’re likelyto qualify for. On the other hand, improving your credit score and having a bigger down payment can have the opposite effect and reduce your interest rate. While each lender has different standards, having a down payment of at least 20% and a credit score of 700 to 740 will typically get you the lowest mortgage rate.

If you’re having trouble qualifying for a mortgage or getting a decent interest rate, you may have better luck with a government-secured loan. Certain mortgages are backed by the different departments of the federal government and are considered less risky by lenders. There are loans guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA loan), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA loan), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA loan).

What Is an APR?

The annual percentage rate, or APR, shows you more than just the interest rate on your loan. It also includes many of the fees you pay on any mortgage or refinance. While your mortgage interest rate is the biggest long-term cost associated with a home loan, it’s not the only expense to pay attention to. Anytime you take out a mortgage, there are upfront fees known as closing costs. This can include fees paid to the appraiser and home inspector, as well as loan origination fees, and discount points. All of these costs add up, and can easily be anywhere from 3% to 6% of the loan amount.

These initial costs can vary significantly by lender. So if you’re comparing loan offers based only on the interest rate, you could end up paying more fees than necessary. This is why understanding APR is important. If one loan has higher loan fees, that will be reflected in the APR, but not the interest rate. So the APR gives you a better idea of the total cost of the mortgage.

Rates as of February 4, 2022

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