Despite today’s elevated mortgage rates, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains the most affordable option available for most homebuyers.
Since the Federal Reserve kicked off its battle to curb inflation by hiking interest rates, mortgage rates have spiked significantly. Today’s homebuyers are looking at average 30-year fixed mortgage rates above 7%, a far cry from the sub-3% rates during the pandemic.
Mortgage rates aren’t expected to move much in the near term, but if price growth continues to slow, rates could ease a bit. But exactly when that will happen and by how much is still unclear.
Even so, a decline of even a few tenths of a percentage point can shave tens of thousands of dollars from your home loan over time. That’s why it’s critical to compare offers from different lenders to find the best rate and loan terms for you.
Here’s what you need to know about how 30-year mortgage rates work, what factors affect them and how to find the best rates for your specific financial situation.
Current 30-year mortgage rate trends
Mortgage rates have been on a mostly upward trajectory since March 2022 when the Fed began hiking its short-term interest rate, the federal funds rate. After averaging around 6.5% for the better part of the summer, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage surged well past 7% in August.
Though experts don’t predict another rate increase at the Fed’s monetary policy meeting next week, the central bank could still decide to hike rates again before the end of the year. And while the Fed isn’t expected to initiate actual cuts to the benchmark rate anytime soon, mortgage rates could start to dip if the economy slows. Fannie Mae predicts the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will end the year at 6.7%.
But significant progress on inflation needs to happen first. Erin Sykes, chief economist at Nest Seekers International, says inflation will need to cool consistently for at least four to six months before we see mortgage rates back near 6.5%.
Pros of a 30-year mortgage
- Lower monthly payments: Your monthly mortgage payments will be significantly lower than with a 15-year loan, offering more breathing room in your household budget -- some that may be critical for many Americans as inflation drives up costs.
- You can take out a larger loan: Lower monthly payments generally allow the lender to approve you for a larger loan -- meaning you can buy a bigger or more expensive house. Just make sure the home you buy fits into your household budget.
- Less expensive path to homeownership: A lower monthly payment will give you a better chance to find and buy a home. A conventional, 30-year mortgage term can expend your budget and widen the circle of potential homes to buy. You also have the option to pay more towards principal every month to shorten the length of your loan term and help you build equity faster.
Cons of a 30-year mortgage
- Higher interest rate: Generally, the longer the term, the higher the interest rate. Because it will take you longer to pay off your loan, the bank will ask you to pay more in interest.
- It costs more in the long run: You will ultimately pay tens of thousands more dollars over the life of a 30-year loan than shorter-term 15-year loan. Part of the larger cost involved is the interest you have to keep paying over 30 years. You’ll pay 15 years of additional interest with a 30-year mortgage compared to a 15-year mortgage.
- Slower to build equity: The less principal you pay off each month, the longer it takes to build equity. It also means there is less equity available to you if you want to refinance or take out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.
How to compare 30-year mortgage rates
In short, it’s worth your while to look at multiple lenders. It’s OK to submit multiple mortgage applications in a short period of time; the credit rating bureaus will recognize that you’re rate shopping and though your credit score may absorb the impact of one hard credit check, it should be relatively minor.
Comparison shopping should eventually lead you to a 30-year mortgage with a competitive interest rate, though the specifics will depend heavily on your credit score and financial situation. One important note: When comparing quotes, it’s critical to make apples-to-apples comparisons. You’ll need to make sure that all of the criteria matches including loan term, lender fees, points and especially interest rate. You cannot compare one quote that only provides an interest rate with another that includes an APR, which incorporates a different set of fees and costs.
Different types of 30-year mortgages
There are many different types of 30-year mortgages. Here’s are the most common ones:
- Conventional: These loans are offered by private insurers
- Government: These loans, which may be granted by the USDA, VA and FHA, are backed by the US government.
- Fixed-rate: Loans with an interest rate that doesn’t change over the life of the loan; this means that your payment amount will be the same every month.
- Adjustable-rate: Though your interest rate might start low but can change periodically based on market conditions.
- Jumbo loan: These loans accommodate amounts above the maximum allowed for a conventional loan.
How to qualify for a mortgage
Different types of mortgages have various eligibility criteria. That noted, in general, you’ll have a better chance of being approved if you meet the following requirements:
- A decent credit score. To be approved for a conventional loan, you’ll need at least a good credit score. You’ll need an excellent credit score to get the lowest interest rate.
- An income. Showing stable employment or a regular income source will be a vital proof point that most lenders will require
- A down payment. Some lenders will require you to have a minimum down payment between 3% and 5% of the total home’s cost. There are some mortgages that will allow you to put less, or even nothing, down.
How to get the best 30-year mortgage rate
Developing a strong financial profile will help you get the best mortgage rate and term. Though there’s no one specific definition of what that looks like, it will help to have an excellent credit score, a substantial credit history and a regular source of income.
Current mortgage rates
|30-year fixed-rate FHA||6.76%||7.69%|
|30-year fixed-rate VA||7.01%||7.12%|
|30-year fixed-rate jumbo||7.65%||7.67%|
|15-year fixed-rate jumbo||6.83%||6.85%|
|5/1 ARM jumbo||6.65%||8.10%|
|7/1 ARM jumbo||6.93%||8.12%|
|30-year fixed-rate refinance||7.83%||7.85%|
|30-year fixed-rate FHA refinance||6.80%||7.75%|
|30-year fixed-rate VA refinance||6.98%||7.19%|
|30-year fixed-rate jumbo refinance||7.89%||7.91%|
|20-year fixed-rate refinance||7.78%||7.81%|
|15-year fixed-rate refinance||6.98%||7.01%|
|15-year fixed-rate jumbo refinance||7.00%||7.02%|
|5/1 ARM refinance||6.67%||8.01%|
|5/1 ARM jumbo refinance||6.77%||7.83%|
|7/1 ARM refinance||6.83%||8.15%|
|7/1 ARM jumbo refinance||6.95%||8.09%|
|10/1 ARM refinance||7.19%||8.15%|
We use information collected by Bankrate, which is owned by the same parent company as CNET, to track daily mortgage rate trends. The above table summarizes the average rates offered by lenders across the country.
More mortgage tools and resources
You can use CNET’s mortgage calculator to help you determine how much house you can afford. CNET’s mortgage calculator takes into account things like your monthly income, expenses and debt payments to give you an idea of what you can manage financially. Your mortgage rate will depend in part on those income factors, as well as your credit score and the ZIP code where you’re looking to buy a house.