Some closely followed mortgage rates fell over the last seven days. Both 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed mortgage rates dropped, with the latter hitting 7%. At the same time, average rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages also declined.
After nearly a year of rising mortgage rates, borrowers finally saw some relief late last year. Rates have declined since they hit their peak in late 2022, though current rates remain nearly double what they were during the record-low rate environment of the pandemic.
Inflation, and the series of rate hikes the Federal Reserve implemented in 2022 in an attempt to curb it, contributed in part to the rise in mortgage rates. Mortgage rates hit a 20-year high in late 2022, but now the macroeconomic environment is changing again.
Overall inflation remains high but has been slowly but consistently falling every month since it peaked in June 2022. The Fed’s decision to raise the federal funds rate by 0.25% on Feb. 1 after its latest meeting — the smallest increase since March 2022 — suggests that inflation may be cooling and the central bank may be able to ease up on its rate hikes.
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. 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 7.00%, which is a decrease of 5 basis points compared to one week ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) Thirty-year fixed mortgages are the most common loan term. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage will usually have a smaller monthly payment than a 15-year one — but usually a higher interest rate. Although you’ll pay more interest over time — you’re paying off your loan over a longer timeframe — if you’re looking for a lower monthly payment, a 30-year fixed mortgage may be a good option.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average rate for a 15-year, fixed mortgage is 6.22%, which is a decrease of 11 basis points compared to a week ago. You’ll definitely have a bigger monthly payment with a 15-year fixed mortgage compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage, even if the interest rate and loan amount are the same. However, as long as you can afford the monthly payments, there are several benefits to a 15-year loan. You’ll typically get a lower interest rate, and you’ll pay less interest in total because you’re paying off your mortgage much quicker.
5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages
A 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage has an average rate of 5.77%, a decrease of 10 basis points compared to last week. With an ARM 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. For borrowers who plan to sell or refinance their house before the rate changes, an adjustable-rate mortgage might be a good option. But if that’s not the case, you might be on the hook for a much higher interest rate if the market rates shift.
Mortgage rate trends
Mortgage rates were historically low throughout most of 2020 and 2021 but increased steadily throughout 2022. The Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate — which influences the cost of most consumer loans, including mortgages — seven times in 2022 in an attempt to curb record-high inflation. Though the Fed doesn’t directly control mortgage rates, higher inflation and a higher federal funds rate tend to lead to higher mortgage rates.
The Fed’s latest 0.25% increase — smaller than its six previous increases of 0.75% or 0.5% — represents a shift in the Fed’s stance and suggests that the central bank might be less aggressive in its rate hikes in 2023 if inflation continues to come down. But inflation is still far from the Fed’s 2% target range and Fed officials have stated repeatedly (PDF) that additional rate hikes — albeit smaller ones — will be necessary. All said, while we may see mortgage rates pull back gradually this year, borrowers shouldn’t expect a sharp drop or a return to pandemic lows.
We use rates collected by Bankrate, which is owned by the same parent company as CNET, to track rate changes over time. This table summarizes the average rates offered by lenders across the US:
Current average mortgage interest rates
|Loan type||Interest rate||A week ago||Change|
|30-year fixed rate||7.00%||7.05%||-0.05|
|15-year fixed rate||6.22%||6.33%||-0.11|
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||7.02%||7.09%||-0.07|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||6.97%||7.09%||-0.12|
Rates as of March 17, 2023.
How to find personalized mortgage rates
You can get a personalized mortgage rate by connecting with your local mortgage broker or using an online calculator. In order to find the best home mortgage, you’ll need to consider your goals and current finances.
Things that affect the mortgage rate you might get include: your credit score, down payment, loan-to-value ratio and your debt-to-income ratio. 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.
The interest rate isn’t the only factor that affects the cost of your home. Be sure to also consider other factors such as fees, closing costs, taxes and discount points. 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 mortgage that’s the right fit for you.
What is a good loan term?
One important thing to consider when choosing a mortgage is 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. Mortgages are further divided into fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. The interest rates in a fixed-rate mortgage are fixed for the duration of the loan. For adjustable-rate mortgages, interest rates are fixed for a certain number of years (most frequently five, seven or 10 years), then the rate changes annually based on the current interest rate in the market.
When choosing between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage, you should think about how long you plan to stay in your house. Fixed-rate mortgages might be a better fit if you plan on living in a home for a while. While adjustable-rate mortgages might offer lower interest rates upfront, fixed-rate mortgages are more stable in the long term. If you don’t have plans to keep your new house for more than three to 10 years, though, an adjustable-rate mortgage may give you a better deal. The best loan term depends on your situation and goals, so make sure to take into consideration what’s important to you when choosing a mortgage.