A few key mortgage rates declined over the last seven days. The average interest rates for both 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed mortgages had a downswing, as did the average rate of 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
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. And 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
The average interest rate for a standard 30-year fixed mortgage is 6.97%, which is a decrease of 16 basis points from seven days ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) The most common loan term is a 30-year fixed mortgage. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage will usually have a smaller monthly payment than a 15-year one -- but typically 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 6.21%, which is a decrease of 13 basis points from seven days 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. But a 15-year loan will usually be the better deal, if you can afford the monthly payments. These include typically being able to get a lower interest rate, paying off your mortgage sooner, and paying less total interest in the long run.
5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages
A 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage has an average rate of 5.79%, a decrease of 9 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. However, changes in the market could cause your interest rate to increase after that time, as detailed in the terms of your loan. Because of this, an adjustable-rate mortgage could be a good option if you plan to sell or refinance your house before the rate changes. But if that's not the case, you might be on the hook for a significantly 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 its 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 data 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:
Average mortgage interest rates
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||6.96%||7.19%||-0.23|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||6.93%||7.12%||-0.19|
Rates as of March 16, 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 take into account your goals and current finances.
Specific mortgage interest rates will vary based on factors including credit score, down payment, debt-to-income ratio and loan-to-value ratio. Having a good credit score, a higher down payment, a low DTI, a low LTV or any combination of those factors can help you get a lower interest rate.
Beyond the mortgage rate, factors including closing costs, fees, discount points and taxes might also affect the cost of your home. You should talk to multiple lenders -- such as local and national banks, credit unions and online lenders -- and comparison shop to find the best mortgage loan for you.
What's the best loan term?
When picking a mortgage, you should consider the loan term, or payment schedule. The most common loan 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. For fixed-rate mortgages, interest rates are the same for the life of the loan. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rates for an adjustable-rate mortgage are only set for a certain amount of time (most frequently five, seven or 10 years). After that, the rate changes annually based on the market interest rate.
One thing to think about when deciding between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage is how long you plan on living in your house. Fixed-rate mortgages might be a better fit for those who plan on staying in a home for a while. Fixed-rate mortgages offer more stability over time in comparison to adjustable-rate mortgages, but adjustable-rate mortgages might offer lower interest rates upfront. If you aren't planning to keep your new house for more than three to 10 years, though, an adjustable-rate mortgage may give you a better deal. There is no best loan term as a rule of thumb; it all depends on your goals and your current financial situation. Make sure to do your research and understand your own priorities when choosing a mortgage.