U.S. Markets close in 1 hr 49 mins

Refi Alert: Mortgage Rates Are the Lowest in Almost 2 Years

Doug Whiteman
Refi Alert: Mortgage Rates Are the Lowest in Almost 2 Years

Mortgage rates keep falling and falling, and now they've gone all the way down to levels not seen in almost two years.

In fact, they've gone so low that people who took out loans last year might be able to save through a refinance.

If you're shopping for a loan and see a rate you like, grab it! Consider whether you should lock in a low rate now.

This week's numbers

The average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dropped all the way down to 3.82%, from 3.99% last week, says mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The benchmark mortgage rate is now the lowest since September 2017.

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

Borrowers are getting fantastic deals compared to last year at this time, when 30-year mortgages were averaging 4.54%. The monthly payment on a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at 3.82% is about $934 — versus $1,018 at 4.54%.

Mortgage applications are picking up. They increased 1.5% last week, reports the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Applications for loans to buy homes slipped 2%, while refinancings jumped 6%.

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

Want more MoneyWise? Sign up for our free weekly newsletter.

Why rates are doing what they're doing

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock
The low rates are presenting homeowners with a golden opportunity to refinance.

Low rates are presenting a great opportunity for homeowners to cut their mortgage payments.

"With rates dipping below 4%, there are over $2 trillion of outstanding conforming conventional mortgages eligible to be refinanced — meaning the majority of what was originated in 2018 is now eligible,” says Sam Khater, the chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Obviously, the rates are a boon to homebuyers, too, though Khater says you need to do some comparison-shopping to get the best possible rate.

"Our research indicates that there can be a wide dispersion among mortgage rate offers," he says. "By shopping around and getting a single additional mortgage rate quote, a borrower can save an average of $1,500" over the life of your loan.

Buyers who find the right home at the right price are likely to see lower mortgage rates throughout 2019. The Federal Reserve has indicated it's not inclined to raise rates anytime soon, and now there's even talk of a rate cut.

If you're thinking about purchasing a home this year, you'll want to calculate what your monthly mortgage payment would be.

This week's other mortgage rates

Average rates on 15-year mortgages have plummeted this week from 3.46% to 3.28%, another new low for 2019. Last year at this time, rates on those shorter-term home loans were averaging 4.01%, 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 — are looking more tantalizing.

They're being offered at initial rates averaging 3.52%, down from 3.60% last week. A year ago, starter rates on those ARMs were averaging 3.74%.

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.