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Mortgage Rates Remain Near 3-Year Lows

Doug Whiteman
Mortgage Rates Remain Near 3-Year Lows

Mortgage rates haven't moved much since late June -- but who's complaining?

Rates this week are still hanging around the lowest levels we've seen since the fall of 2016, offering both homebuyers and homeowners opportunities to score serious savings in their monthly house payments.

If you see a good rate and are shopping for a house or are open to a refinance, you may want to lock that rate now.

This week's numbers

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Mortgage rates are slightly higher this week.

The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages is unchanged this week, at 3.75%, says mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

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

Borrowers are getting excellent deals versus last year at this time, when the benchmark mortgage rate was three-quarters of a point higher — averaging 4.53%.

Rates have fallen so low that homeowners might want to look into doing a refi, even for a mortgage that's just a year old. Take a look at this week's best mortgage rates where you are.

But apparently, many homeowners haven't gotten the memo, because new refinancings were down 7% last week, says the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Overall mortgage applications declined 2.4%.

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Why rates are doing what they're doing

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Better-than-expected hiring is helping to hold mortgage rates down.

Mortgage rates have been holding fairly steady the last few weeks because financial markets are liking what they've been seeing and hearing.

Namely, the "modestly improving U.S. economic data and a more accommodative tone from the Federal Reserve to respond to the rising downside economic risk from trade tensions and soft global economic data," says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

Translation: The government's jobs report for June showed hiring was better than expected last month, and Fed officials continue to hint that a cut in interest rates may be coming.

“While (mortgage) rates have moderated, we’re still at nearly three-year lows, which is good news for buyers looking to purchase a home before school starts," Khater says.

Freddie Mac's latest forecast looks for mortgage rates to stay down for the rest of this year. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage for all of 2019 is expected to be 4.1%.

And next year, only a slight uptick is anticipated: to an average 4.2%.

This week's other mortgage rates

Rates on 15-year mortgages are higher this week. The average is 3.22%, up from 3.18% last week.

A year ago, the short-term home loans were averaging 4.02%, Freddie Mac says.

Meanwhile, 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages — with rates that hold steady for five years and then can "adjust" up (or down) every year — this week have seen little change in rates.

Those ARMs are now being offered at an average initial rate of 3.46%, compared to 3.45% last week. One year ago, those starter rates were at 3.86%, on average.

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

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