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Happy Homebuying! Mortgage Rates Are Sliding

Doug Whiteman
Happy Homebuying! Mortgage Rates Are Sliding

Been waiting eagerly for winter to end so you can shake off your cabin fever and hit some open houses? Mortgage rates that keep falling to levels not seen in over a year should put you in even more of a mood to shop this spring homebuying season.

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has slid to 4.28%, from last week's 4.31%, reports mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

One year ago, that benchmark mortgage rate was averaging 4.45%. The loans in Freddie Mac's survey come with an average 0.4 point.

Americans are taking notice of the drop in mortgage rates. Mortgage applications rose 1.6% last week, compared to the previous week, says the Mortgage Bankers Association. For the third week in a row, the average loan amount hit a new high: $327,500.

Meanwhile, refinance applications jumped 3.5% in the most recent week. Homeowners might want to look at their current rate and decide whether it's time to refi.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock
Low mortgage rates are likely to get the attention of prospective homebuyers.

The latest dip in mortgage rates comes a day after the Federal Reserve left interest rates alone and indicated it wasn't likely to raise them again any time this year.

That could help to hold down mortgage rates.

"Mortgage rates have dipped quite dramatically since the start of the year and house prices continue to moderate, which should help on the homebuyer affordability front," says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

He's betting it will be a big spring for house shopping.

Mortgage rates have been riding a down escalator since November, when the 30-year fixed mortgage rate hit a seven-year high of close to 5%. Freddie Mac has predicted that rates will rise again, to an average 4.6% for all of 2019 — same as last year.

Shopping for a home loan? Calculate what your mortgage payment will be.

This week's other mortgage rates

Rates on 15-year mortgages are averaging 3.71% this week — down from 3.76% last week, Freddie Mac says. Last year at this time, those shorter-term home loans were averaging 3.91%.

And 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages — with rates that hold steady for five years and then can "adjust" up (or down) every year after that — are now being offered with initial rates averaging 3.84%. That's unchanged from last week.

One year ago, those ARMs were offered for an average 3.68%.

Before you can think about a mortgage, you'll need a down payment ready to go. Finance professionals recommend opening a separate savings account to help you put that money aside.