It's been three years since we've seen mortgage rates stay so low for so long.
Oh, rates have moved a little higher this week. But mortgage giant Freddie Mac notes that 30-year fixed mortgage rates have remained under 3.6% for four straight weeks — and it's the first time we've seen that kind of string since the fall of 2016.
Borrowers are noticing and have been blazing their way through mortgage applications.
If you spot a good rate and are shopping for a house or could benefit from a refinance, you may want to lock that rate now.
This week's numbers
The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has gone up this week to 3.56%, from 3.49% last week, says Freddie Mac.
The loans in the survey come with an average 0.5 point.
One year ago, the benchmark mortgage rate was more than a full percentage point higher, averaging 4.6%.
Rates have fallen so far that it might be worth your while to refinance an existing home loan, even if it's just a year old. Take a look at today's best rates where you are.
Freddie Mac said recently that homeowners who refinanced in the spring are saving an average of $1,700 a year, or about $140 a month.
Refinance activity is up 169% from a year ago, says the Mortgage Bankers Association. Refi applications edged up 0.4% last week, and mortgage applications overall were up 2%.
Why rates are doing what they're doing
Low interest rates are helping to keep the market for homes humming, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.
"The improved demand reflects the still healthy underlying consumer economic fundamentals such as a low unemployment rate, solid wage growth and low mortgage rates," Khater says.
People shopping for houses have not gotten rattled by trouble signs for the economy, such as weakness in U.S. manufacturing, and all of the uncertainty over tariffs and trade, he adds.
Mortgage rates are likely to stay down and continue bolstering home sales going into next year. Freddie Mac's current forecast looks for rates to remain in the neighborhood of 3.6% through the first half of 2020.
The Federal Reserve is expected to do its part to keep borrowing costs down. Central bankers meet next week, and the widely followed CME FedWatch forecasting tool shows a high probability that the officials will cut interest rates again.
This week's other mortgage rates
Rates on 15-year mortgages — which are popular among refinancers — have risen to an average 3.09%, from an even 3% last week.
A year ago, those short-term home loans were averaging 4.06%, on average, Freddie Mac says.
Rates also are higher on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, which are level for five years and then can "adjust" up (or down) each year.
Those ARMs are currently being offered at an average initial rate of 3.36%, up from 3.3% last week. Last year at this time, the starter rates were averaging 3.93%.
When you apply for a mortgage, you'll need down payment money. Find a savings account at a great rate, and start setting that cash aside.
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