Mortgage rates play a huge role in determining the cost of a home loan. Recently, rates have been trending downward, creating great opportunities for affordable home loans. Here’s what you should know about current mortgage rates, along with some insight into what drives interest rates higher and lower over time.
How Low Are Current Rates?
A year ago, the benchmark rate of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loan was about 4.05%. Since that time, it has been trending downward in a big way. As we head into the third and fourth quarters of the year, rates are hovering at or below 3.5%. This makes now a great time to buy as long as you understand how interest rates affect the overall cost of your mortgage loan.
Why Do Interest Rates Matter?
When you buy a home, the listing price, down payment and closing costs are only a small part of the cost equation. One of the smallest (but most significant) numbers home buyers need to understand is the mortgage interest rate. The interest rate significantly affects monthly mortgage payments and determines the total amount you pay for your home.
In essence, the interest rate on your loan determines how much you are paying every year to your lender for just having the mortgage loan. Basically, lower interest rates mean a lower overall cost for your real estate investment.
For instance, consider a $300,000, 30-year fixed-rate loan with an interest rate of 4.5%. Over the term of the loan, you can expect to pay an extra $247,220 in interest on top of the initial $300,000). You can also expect monthly mortgage payments of about $1,520.
Now, if you were able to get a loan at 3.5 percent, you’d only pay $184,968 in interest, and your monthly mortgage payments would be about $1,347. Although it may not seem significant at first glance, that 1% difference in interest could cost (or save) you around $170 a month and more than $60,000 over the life of your mortgage loan.
In addition to saving you money on a loan, lower interest rates allow you to look at homes that might normally be outside your price range. This is why it’s so important to pay close attention to fluctuating interest rates and strike when an ideal opportunity arises.
How Are Mortgage Rates Determined?
Contrary to common belief, mortgage rates are not actually based on the 10-year Treasury note; they are based on the bond market, meaning mortgage-backed securities or mortgage bonds. Mortgage-backed securities are essentially mortgage loans that are packaged into bundles or groups of securities and then sold in the bond market. The price of these bundled debt securities is driven by global and national news events, which also impacts individual mortgage rates.
While that may sound complicated, it simply means that there are a lot of factors that influence the benchmark rate of 30-year fixed-rate mortgage loans. That said, just because national mortgage rates are low doesn’t mean you can expect to acquire a loan at an affordable rate. There are a lot of other things that work to determine the rate on each borrower’s loan. Individual lenders adjust mortgage rates based on how risky they judge a loan to be. The riskier the mortgage loan, the higher the overall interest rate.
When judging risk, lenders will consider how likely you are to fall behind on payments, and how much money they stand to lose if the loan goes bad. The major factors are loan-to-value ratio and credit score. Lenders may also charge higher interest rates for adjustable-rate mortgages, cash-out refinances and loans on condominiums, manufactured homes, investment properties and second homes because they are viewed as riskier.
Working with an Expert
When it comes to getting the best deal on a home, it’s important to take advantage of low interest rates. It’s also important to have an expert in your corner to help you make important decisions and navigate the complex home buying process.
With 60-plus years of combined real estate experience, The Wheaton Team specializes in residential real estate throughout Colorado Springs and all of El Paso County. Our considerate team of seasoned professionals can guide you through each step of the buying and financing process, so you can find the home you’ve always dreamed of. To learn more, contact us today!
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