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Mortgage Rates Stay Low, Giving You More Time to Make a Move

Doug Whiteman
Mortgage Rates Stay Low, Giving You More Time to Make a Move

After tumbling for six straight weeks, mortgage rates are taking a little bit of a time out. But look where they've settled: at a low level we hadn't seen in almost two years.

Borrowers are finally getting wise and have started a stampede to lending offices and websites. And maybe it's time for you to join them.

If you're in the market for a new home or a new loan and you spot a good rate, pounce! This may be your perfect opportunity to lock in a low rate.

This week's numbers

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is sticking around at 3.82%, same as last week, says mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The benchmark mortgage rate remains at its lowest level since September 2017.

The loans in the survey come with an average 0.6 point.

It's almost like Black Friday for borrowers, who are getting serious discounts compared to last year at this time, when 30-year mortgages were averaging 4.62%.

Use a mortgage calculator and you'll see that the monthly payment on a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3.82% is about $934 — almost $100 less than what you'd pay each month ($1,028) at 4.62%.

The word is apparently getting out, because lenders are reporting a borrowing boom. The number of mortgage applications skyrocketed 26.8% last week, with refinancings surging 47%, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.

Freddie Mac has said the drop in rates can make it worth your while to refi, even if you got your current loan just last year.

Check out today's best mortgage rates where you live.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

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Mortgage rates may be providing homeowners with a great chance to refinance.

"These historically low rates should provide continued opportunities for current homeowners to refinance their mortgages," says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac's chief economist.

So why did mortgage rates stop going down this week? Khater says that's "due to easing of trade tensions with Mexico, which helped stabilize markets."

Rates had been moving in step with the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which has been falling amid worries about the trade battle and its potential to do damage to the economy.

The Federal Reserve could help to push mortgage rates even lower when policymakers meet next week, because many observers expect the central bank will signal that its next move will be a cut in interest rates.

Chairman Jerome Powell said recently that the Fed will respond "as appropriate" to the trade war and other economic threats.

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This week's other mortgage rates

Average rates on 15-year mortgages are down again this week. They've fallen from from 3.28% to 3.26%, another new low for 2019.

Last year at this time, rates on those shorter-term home loans were averaging 4.07%, Freddie Mac says.

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

Those ARMs are being offered at initial rates averaging 3.51%, down from 3.52% last week. A year ago, the starter rates were averaging 3.83%.

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.