This week, some key refinance rates floated higher. If you're looking to refinance, see how the Fed's rate hikes have affected the refinance market.
Multiple benchmark refinance interest rates increased over the past seven days. Both 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed refinances saw their mean rates go higher. At the same time, average rates for 10-year fixed refinances also saw growth.
Amid its ongoing battle to fight inflation, the Federal Reserve announced a 0.25% hike to its target federal funds rate on March 22. Refinance rates, like mortgage rates, fluctuate on a daily basis and could see further movement in response.
"Going forward, it's likely that mortgage rates will continue to fluctuate as the housing market continues to react to the uncertainty that permeates today's economy," said Jacob Channel, senior economist at loan marketplace LendingTree.
As the Fed aggressively ratcheted up the federal funds rate in 2022, refinance rates spiked, but we're seeing signs that rates may be slowly starting to level out as inflation eases.
For the first two meetings of 2023, the Fed has adopted a slower pace of increases as it waits to see the cumulative effects of policy changes on inflation.
While still high, inflation has been steadily declining each month since its peak in June 2022. Following its March meeting, the Fed signaled that "some additional policy firming" may be necessary in order to reach its 2% target for inflation.
Looking at average mortgage rate data for the past year, mortgage rates hit a peak in late 2022 and have been trending down since then. We're still a long way from the record-low refinance rates of 2020 and 2021, but borrowers may see rates fall in 2023.
"With the backdrop of easing inflation pressures, we should see more consistent declines in mortgage rates as the year progresses, particularly if the economy and labor market slow noticeably," said Greg McBride, CFA and chief financial analyst at Bankrate. (Bankrate, like CNET Money, is owned by Red Ventures.) He expects 30-year fixed mortgage rates to end the year near 5.25%.
Regardless of where rates are headed, homeowners shouldn't focus on timing the market, and should instead decide if refinancing makes sense for their financial situation. As long as you can get a lower interest rate than your current rate, refinancing will likely save you money. Do the math to see if it makes sense for your current finances and goals. If you do decide to refinance, make sure you compare rates, fees, and the annual percentage rate -- which shows the total cost of borrowing -- from different lenders to find the best deal.
For 30-year fixed refinances, the average rate is currently at 7.04%, an increase of 14 basis points from what we saw one week ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) Refinancing to a 30-year fixed loan from a shorter loan term can lower your monthly payments. This makes 30-year refinances good for people who are having difficulties making their monthly payments or simply want a bit more breathing room. Be aware, though, that interest rates will typically be higher compared to a 10- or 15-year refinance, and you'll pay off your loan at a slower rate.
For 15-year fixed refinances, the average rate is currently at 6.31%, an increase of 14 basis points compared to one week ago. Refinancing to a 15-year fixed loan from a 30-year fixed loan will likely raise your monthly payment. But you'll save more money over time, because you're paying off your loan quicker. 15-year refinance rates are typically lower than 30-year refinance rates, which will help you save even more in the long run.
The average 10-year fixed refinance rate right now is 6.38%, an increase of 10 basis points compared to one week ago. You'll pay more every month with a 10-year fixed refinance compared to a 15- or 30-year refinance -- but you'll also have a lower interest rate. A 10-year refinance can be a good deal, since paying off your house sooner will help you save on interest in the long run. Just be sure to carefully consider your budget and current financial situation to make sure that you can afford a higher monthly payment.
At the start of the pandemic, refinance interest rates hit a historic low. But in early 2022, the Fed started hiking interest rates in an effort to curb runaway inflation. While the Fed doesn't directly set mortgage rates, the Fed rate hikes led to an increased cost of borrowing among most consumer loan products, including mortgages and refinances. Mortgage rates hit a 20-year high in late 2022.
Recent data shows that overall inflation has been falling slowly but steadily since it peaked in June 2022, but it still remains well above the Fed's 2% inflation goal. After raising rates by 25 basis points in March, the Fed has indicated (PDF) it plans to slow -- but not stop -- the pace of its rate hikes throughout 2023. Both of these factors are likely to contribute to a gradual pull-back of mortgage and refinance rates this year, although consumers shouldn't expect a sharp drop or a return to pandemic-era lows.
We track refinance rate trends using information collected by Bankrate. Here's a table with the average refinance rates provided by lenders nationwide:
|Product||Rate||A week ago||Change|
|30-year fixed refi||7.04%||6.90%||+0.14|
|15-year fixed refi||6.31%||6.17%||+0.14|
|10-year fixed refi||6.38%||6.28%||+0.10|
Rates as of April 21, 2023.
It's important to understand that the rates advertised online often require specific conditions for eligibility. Your interest rate will be influenced by market conditions as well as your specific credit history, financial profile and application.
Having a high credit score, a low credit utilization ratio and a history of consistent and on-time payments will generally help you get the best interest rates. You can get a good feel for average interest rates online, but make sure to speak with a mortgage professional in order to see the specific rates you qualify for. To get the best refinance rates, you'll first want to make your application as strong as possible. The best way to improve your credit ratings is to get your finances in order, use credit responsibly and monitor your credit regularly. Don't forget to speak with multiple lenders and shop around.
Refinancing can be a great move if you get a good rate or can pay off your loan sooner -- but consider carefully whether it's the right choice for you at the moment.
Generally, it's a good idea to refinance if you can get a lower interest rate than your current interest rate, or if you need to change your loan term. When deciding whether to refinance, be sure to take into account other factors besides market interest rates, including how long you plan to stay in your current home, the length of your loan term and the amount of your monthly payment. And don't forget about fees and closing costs, which can add up.
As interest rates increased throughout 2022, the pool of refinancing applicants contracted. If you bought your house when interest rates were lower than they are today, there may not be a financial benefit in refinancing your mortgage.