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Mortgage Rates Are Looking Even Better

Doug Whiteman
Mortgage Rates Are Looking Even Better

Looking to buy a home or refinance your mortgage? The good news keeps coming: Mortgage rates have fallen for the third straight week.

Rates remain below the levels from last year at this time -- which is just where you want them as the spring home-selling season approaches.

The current average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to 4.35%, from last week's 4.37%, says mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

One year ago, the benchmark mortgage rate was higher than it is today — averaging 4.40%. The loans in Freddie Mac's survey come with an average 0.5 point.

Borrowers are noticing the lower rates. Mortgage applications rose 3.6% last week, compared to the previous week, and refinances jumped 6%, the Mortgage Bankers Association says.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

Thomas Barrat / Shutterstock
Mortgage rates are falling as the Federal Reserve pauses its campaign of interest rate hikes.

Mortgage rates are falling as the Federal Reserve takes a break from raising interest rates. The Fed said after its meeting last month that it would be "patient" about resuming its campaign of rate hikes.

Notes from the meeting that were released this week indicate Fed policymakers are divided on whether to tinker with interest rates at all during 2019.

The decline in mortgage rates is gift for both homebuyers and sellers, says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

"Wages are growing on par with home prices for the first time in years, and with more inventory available, spring home sales should help the market begin to recover from the malaise of the last few months," he says.

Rates have been on a downward slope since November — but keep in mind that they could easily rise again. Freddie Mac is forecasting an average rate of 4.7% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages in 2019, up slightly from 2018's average of 4.6%.

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 3.78% this week — down from 3.81% last week, Freddie Mac says. The rates on those shorter-term home loans also have fallen below the levels from this time last year, when they were averaging 3.85%.

And 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages — with rates that are fixed for five years and then can "adjust" up (or down) every year after that — are now being offered with initial rates averaging 3.84%, down from last week's 3.88%.

One year ago, those ARMs were offered for an average 3.65%.