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Mortgage Rates Haven't Been This Low Since November 2016

Doug Whiteman
Mortgage Rates Haven't Been This Low Since November 2016

After moving sideways for a couple of weeks, mortgage rates have gone tumbling again and have turned back the clock to a very memorable time.

Rates this week have fallen now in seven out of the last nine weeks and have returned to levels we haven't seen since the days just after the presidential election in 2016.

If you're shopping for a new home or a new loan, don't let a low rate get away. Consider whether this might be your time to lock a rate.

This week's numbers

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Borrowers are still getting huge bargains.

The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has plummeted to 3.73%, from last week's 3.84%, according to mortgage company Freddie Mac. The last time the benchmark mortgage rate was lower was the week of Nov. 10, 2016.

The loans in the survey come with an average 0.5 point.

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Borrowers are enjoying substantial savings versus a year ago, when 30-year loans were averaging 4.55%.

If you're a homeowner, rates have fallen so far that you might want to look into refinancing — even if your mortgage is only a year old. Check out today's best mortgage rates where you live.

Refinance applications rose 3% last week while overall mortgage applications were up 1.3%, says the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Refinancings are currently responsible for more than half of all mortgage activity, the trade group says.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

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Mortgage rates follow the trajectory of the 10-year U.S. Treasury note.

Mortgage rates tend to track the yield on the Treasury's 10-year note, which also has been at its lowest level since 2016. The Treasury market has been in a tailspin since the Federal Reserve indicated earlier this month that it might start cutting interest rates.

Low mortgage rates have contributed to a rise in the number of homes under contract — what are officially called "pending home sales." They were up 1.1% in May, the National Association of Realtors said this week.

"Rates of 4% and, in some cases even lower, create extremely attractive conditions for consumers," says Lawrence Yun, the association's chief economist, in a statement. "Buyers, for good reason, are anxious to purchase and lock in at these rates."

Yun warns that "there is no guarantee" that mortgage rates will keep going down. Freddie Mac's current forecast says the average rate on a 30-year mortgage for all of 2019 will be 4.1%.

The forecast also calls for only a slight uptick in rates next year, to 4.2%.

This week's other mortgage rates

Rates on 15-year mortgages have hit another new low for 2019. They've gone spiraling back to an average 3.16%, down from 3.25% last week.

A year ago, rates on the short-term home loans were averaging 4.04%, Freddie Mac says.

And, 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages — with rates that hold steady for five years and then can "adjust" up (or down) every year — keep going down, too.

Those ARMs are now being offered at an average initial rate of 3.39%, compared to 3.48% last week. A year ago, those starter rates were at 3.87%, on average.

When you apply for a mortgage, you'll need down payment money. Find a savings account at a great rate, and start stashing that cash.

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