A couple of important mortgage rates rose over the last seven days. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased to just below 7.0%. At the same time, average rates for both 15-year fixed mortgages and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages also ticked up.
The Federal Reserve announced a 25-basis point increase to its benchmark short-term interest rate on March 22. This could have an impact on mortgage rates, but it’s difficult to say just how much for a market already in flux.
“We’re in one of the most volatile markets in terms of rates since 2008,” said Jennifer Beeston, senior vice president at Guaranteed Rate, a national mortgage lender.
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.
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 two meetings of 2023. The decision to hike by 0.25% on March 22 suggests that inflation is cooling and the central bank may be able to ease up — but not stop — on its rate hikes.
While mortgage rates have dipped a bit from their December 2022 peak, they still aren’t dramatically lower. Fewer buyers are willing to jump into the housing market, driving demand down and causing home prices 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,” said 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,” said 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 added.
Rather than worrying about market mortgage rates, homebuyers should focus on what they can control: getting the best rate they can for their situation.
“Instead of getting into the minutiae of what the market’s doing every six seconds, buyers need to focus on what it is they’re really trying to accomplish and have a good game plan,” Beeston said.
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
The 30-year fixed-mortgage rate average is 6.94%, which is a growth of 13 basis points as of seven days ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) Thirty-year fixed mortgages are the most frequently used loan term. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage will usually have a lower 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 6.27%, which is an increase of 14 basis points from the same time last week. You’ll definitely have a larger 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. But a 15-year loan will usually be the better deal, as long as you’re able to afford the monthly payments. You’ll usually 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 ARM has an average rate of 5.76%, an addition of 5 basis points compared to a week ago. You’ll typically get a lower interest rate (compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage) with a 5/1 ARM in the first five years of the mortgage. But since the rate changes with the market rate, you could end up paying more after that time, as described in the terms of your loan. Because of this, an ARM might be a good option if you plan to sell or refinance your house before the rate changes. Otherwise, changes in the market mean your interest rate may be a good deal higher once the rate adjusts.
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 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||6.94%||6.81%||+0.13|
|15-year fixed rate||6.27%||6.13%||+0.14|
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||7.03%||6.88%||+0.15|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||7.09%||6.92%||+0.17|
Rates as of April 20, 2023.
How to shop for the best mortgage rate
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 consider your goals and current finances.
Things that affect the mortgage interest rate you might get include: your credit score, down payment, loan-to-value ratio and your debt-to-income ratio. Having a higher 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. You should comparison shop with multiple lenders — for example, credit unions and online lenders in addition to local and national banks — in order to get a loan that works best for you.
What is a good loan term?
One important factor to consider when choosing a mortgage is the loan term, or payment schedule. The mortgage terms most commonly offered are 15 years and 30 years, although you can also find 10-, 20- and 40-year mortgages. Mortgages are further divided into fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. For fixed-rate mortgages, interest rates are set for the life 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 (most frequently five, seven or 10 years). After that, the rate adjusts annually based on the current interest rate in the market.
One factor to consider when deciding between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage is the length of time you plan on living in your home. For those who plan on living long-term in a new house, fixed-rate mortgages may be the better option. While adjustable-rate mortgages might have lower interest rates upfront, fixed-rate mortgages are more stable in the long term. However, you could get a better deal with an adjustable-rate mortgage if you only have plans to keep your home for a few years. The best loan term is entirely dependent on your own situation and goals, so make sure to consider what’s important to you when choosing a mortgage.