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Low Mortgage Rates Could Mean a Busy Weekend for Borrowing

Doug Whiteman
Low Mortgage Rates Could Mean a Busy Weekend for Borrowing

With mortgage rates around their lowest levels in three years, it's likely to be a big weekend for lenders — who already have their hands full.

"Refinance demand has surged due to historically low interest rates," says Alan Rosenbaum, founder and CEO of GuardHill Financial Corp., a mortgage banker and brokerage firm in New York. He was expecting an "active" couple of high-volume days, through Columbus Day on Monday.

Homeowners have been waking up to the fact that they might save money by refinancing, even if they took out their current mortgage just last year. Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates have seen a stunning decline and are down almost 1.5 percentage points from where they were at this time in 2018.

You think that's impressive? There's room for rates to fall even further, according to a new report.

A perfect time to borrow

rawmn / Shutterstock
Rates on home loans are much lower than they were last year at this time

The current average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.57%, down from 3.65% a week earlier, says mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

The really striking comparison is to last year at this time, when the benchmark mortgage rate was averaging nearly 5%. (To be exact, 4.9%.)

Take a look at today's best mortgage rates where you live.

Rates on 15-year mortgages — which are popular among homeowners who refi — have fallen to an average 3.05%, from 3.14% the previous week. A year ago, those rates were averaging 4.29%, Freddie Mac says.

It's an excellent time to do a cash-out refi, Rosenbaum says, "to pay off existing debt by cashing out of the equity many homeowners have built. There are many opportunities and options available."

On 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages — which are level for five years and then can "adjust" up or down each year — the current average initial rate is 3.35%. That's down from 3.38% in early October and much lower than the 4.07% borrowers were charged a year ago.

Calculate the kind of monthly payment you might expect from the current mortgage rates.

Report: Rates should be even lower

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Some customers are disappointed by today's mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates may be at eye-poppingly low levels, but they could be lower still, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Rates on home loans tend to track the interest on 10-year U.S. Treasury notes. Lately, those bond yields have been falling faster than mortgage rates — in fact, the spread between the two is the widest in over seven years.

Lenders haven't felt the need to make deep cuts in their rates because demand for mortgages has been so strong. Applications for refinance loans are up by a staggering 163% from a year ago, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.

Don't miss out

Some borrowers hoping for extra-puny mortgage rates have been leaving lending offices disappointed.

“A lot of people hear stories about where rates should be and come in with unreasonable expectations," New York mortgage broker Melissa Cohn told The Wall Street Journal.

Don't let yourself miss out on a good thing in hopes rates will get even better, advises Rosenbaum, of GuardHill Financial.

"With the ability to capitalize on many of the great current opportunities available, I feel the potential benefit now outweighs taking the chance of losing it in order to attain something else that may or may not happen," he says.

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