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Mortgage Rates Hit 3-Month High, Still a Bargain Compared to a Year Ago

Doug Whiteman
Mortgage Rates Hit 3-Month High, Still a Bargain Compared to a Year Ago

Mortgage rates have pushed higher again this week and have reached 12-week peaks, according to a closely followed survey.

But here are some important things to remember: Rates are still very low, historically speaking, and homeowners still have opportunities to refinance. The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage remains more than a full percentage point below where it was last year at this time.

Considering a refi or shopping for a home? If you spot a good rate, lock it in — and don't let it get away.

This week's numbers

Andrii Yalanskyi / Shutterstock
Low mortgage rates have helped to drive up home prices.

Rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages have continued to climb this week, hitting an average 3.75%, up from 3.69% last week, mortgage giant Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The benchmark mortgage rate is at its highest point since early August. The loans in the Freddie Mac survey come with an average 0.5 point.

Borrowers continue to enjoy big savings compared to last year at this time, when 30-year mortgages were more than a full percentage point higher: averaging 4.86%.

Use this calculator to see the kind of monthly payment you can expect from today's low mortgage rates.

If you took out a home loan even just last year, you might be able to lower your monthly payment dramatically by refinancing into a new mortgage at a lower rate. See how much you might save through a refinance in your state.

Americans who refinanced in the spring of this year are saving an average of about $140 a month, or $1,700 per year, Freddie Mac said recently.

Homeowners have been in something of a rush to refinance. Though refi rates were down last week compared to the previous week, the Mortgage Bankers Association says lenders are receiving more than double the refinance applications they got last year at this time.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

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Demand for homes has been hot.

Mortgage rates have jumped again this week because the interest on the Treasury's 10-year note has been all over the place. That's what tends to set the pace for the rates on fixed-rate home loans.

“The outlook for a favorable resolution to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China is still unclear, introducing some volatility into financial markets and the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield," explains Sam Khater, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.

But mortgage rates are still "at near historic lows, while mortgage applications to purchase a home remain higher year over year," Khater points out.

Low mortgage rates have helped to heat up the demand for homes, pushing prices to levels that are starting to turn off potential buyers.

The National Association of Realtors reported this week that prices for existing single-family homes are up 5.9% from a year ago and hit a median $272,100 nationwide in September.

The market for homes is likely to stay healthy because mortgage rates are expected to remain tantalizingly low. Thirty-year mortgages should remain below 4% for the rest of 2019, according to Freddie Mac's current forecast.

This week's other mortgage rates

Rates on other types of mortgages also are higher this week.

The average for a 15-year mortgage has climbed to 3.18%, from 3.15% last week.

Those shorter-term home loans are a popular choice for refinances. Last year at this time, 15-year fixed-rate mortgages were averaging a steeper 4.29%, Freddie Mac says.

And, rates have risen for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, which are level for five years and then can adjust up — or down — every year.

ARMs are currently being offered at an average initial rate of 3.4%, up from 3.35% last week. One year ago, the ARM starter rates were averaging 4.14%.

Check today's best mortgage rates where you live.