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A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has the same interest rate for the duration of the loan. Your mortgage interest rate and monthly payment won’t be impacted even if the market changes. As long as you make on-time payments in full, you’ll make the same payment and pay the same interest rate until the loan is paid off.
There are three key benefits to 30-year fixed mortgages:
Lower monthly payments:
With 30 years to repay your loan, your monthly payments will be more affordable than they would be with a shorter loan term. The longer loan term can make the cost of homeownership more manageable.
Predictable monthly payments:
Because the mortgage interest rate never changes, your payments never change, either. For the entire 30-year loan term, you’ll know exactly how much you’ll have to pay each month, making it easier to plan and budget. That can be a big relief when compared to adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), which can fluctuate a great deal.
Able to get a more expensive house:
A lower payment with a 30-year mortgage could allow you to afford a more expensive home. Just make sure not to borrow more than you can truly afford.
What Is a Mortgage Rate and How Do They Work?
While a 30-year fixed mortgage is popular, there are some drawbacks to keep in mind:
Higher interest rate:
By giving you 30 years to repay your home loan, lenders are taking a larger risk. To offset that risk, lenders usually charge you a higher interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgages compared to loans with shorter terms.
More total paid interest:
Having a 30-year mortgage makes your monthly payments more affordable. However, the longer loan term means more interest will accrue on your loan, causing you to repay far more than you originally borrowed.
More time to build equity:
Because of the lower monthly payment and long loan term, much of your payment will go toward the interest that accrues each month on your mortgage rather than the principal. With a 30-year mortgage, it will take you longer to build equity in your home.
Many banks and online lenders offer 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. With Credible, you can get a streamlined pre-approval for a home loan in as little as three minutes — making getting a mortgage faster and easier. Plus, you can compare lenders and interest rates all at once and finish the entire application process online.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage
Getting preapproved for a mortgage is a great first step in the homebuying process. Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for a pre-approval and the benefits of getting one.
How to buy a house
There are a lot more steps in the homebuying process than you might think. Review our checklist of steps to buying a house so you don’t forget anything along the way.
First time home buyer tips
From not saving enough for a down payment to skipping pre-approval, don’t fall victim to these first-time homebuyer mistakes. Here’s how you can avoid them.
How to qualify for the best mortgage rate
You really have to do your research if you want to get the best mortgage rate. Here’s how to find the best rate for your situation.
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As a Credible authority on mortgages, Chris Jennings covers topics including home loans and mortgage refinancing. His work has appeared in Fox Business and GOBankingRates.
A rate of 3% is exceedingly low, especially when you look at historical 30-year fixed mortgage rates. For instance, in 2011, the average annual rate for 30-year fixed loans was 4.45%, and in 1981, the rate reached an all-time high of 16.63%.
Market conditions (i.e., supply and demand) contribute to interest-rate fluctuations, but monetary policies implemented by the Federal Reserve are the primary driver. Although the Fed doesn’t set mortgage rates, it does set a federal funds rate, which is the rate banks use to make short-term loans to each other. The federal funds rate, in turn, influences the rates banks charge to loan you money. When the federal funds rate goes up, mortgage rates tend to go up as well.
In times of economic crisis, the Fed may reduce the federal funds rate. For example, in response to the Great Recession, the Fed reduced the federal funds rate from 5.25% in September 2007 to between 0% and 0.25% in December 2008. The federal funds rate currently sits in that same range as the U.S. economy recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s a look at how today’s mortgage rate compares to average annual rates over the last few years, according to data from Freddie Mac:
|Year||Average Annual Rate|
Although the federal funds rate and current market conditions influence the mortgage rates banks set, the exact rate you pay also depends on how safe or risky a borrower you are.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, these factors all impact that rate you pay:
Credit score: A higher score indicates you’re a trustworthy borrower, and typically results in a lower interest rate.
Down payment: A larger down payment makes you a less risky borrower. Your lender, in turn, may offer you a lower mortgage rate.
Home location: Rates can vary by state and county. The health of the local housing market may influence your rate as well.
Loan amount: Jumbo loans generally have higher mortgage rates than conforming loans. Small home loans also tend to have higher interest rates.
Loan term: The longer your loan term, the riskier it is. That’s why a 30-year loan usually carries a higher rate than a 15-year loan.
Type of interest rate: An adjustable interest rate is usually lower than a fixed rate in the beginning. However, it fluctuates with the prime rate it’s based on after an initial fixed period, and may result in a higher rate later in the term.
Type of loan: The most common home loan types include conventional, jumbo, FHA, USDA, and VA loans. Lenders determine which to offer, and they set their own rates for each.
From a lender’s perspective, 30-year mortgages are riskier compared to 15-year mortgages because you pay back principal slower and have more time to run into financial troubles, potentially jeopardizing your ability to pay back the loan.
The longer loan term combined with the higher interest rate means having to pay significantly more in interest over the life of the loan as well. It’ll also take some time before you own your home free and clear.
Despite these drawbacks, many homebuyers still opt for a 30-year home loan vs. a 15-year home loan. With a 30-year mortgage, you get to enjoy a smaller monthly payment along with the flexibility of paying extra toward your mortgage if you so choose. A 30-year mortgage might allow you to buy more home than you otherwise could afford too.
The lowest weekly average mortgage rate was 2.65% on the week ending Jan. 7, 2021, according to historical data from Freddie Mac.
A good mortgage rate is one that’s substantially lower than the rates competing lenders are charging for. It’s important to compare at least three different lenders when shopping for a home loan. This will help you get a good rate on a 30-year mortgage, and it could end up saving you thousands of dollars in interest.
On top of shopping around, making yourself a less risky borrower is key to qualifying for the lowest rate possible. Here’s how:
Maximize your credit score: Correct any errors on your credit report, and pay off any old collection accounts you might’ve forgotten about.
Pay down debt: A low debt-to-income ratio helps you qualify for a lower rate. Aim for a DTI ratio of less than 43% to qualify for the best mortgage rate.
Make a large down payment: The more you put down, the less you’ll have to borrow from the lender. With a larger down payment, the lender will consider you less of a risk and be more inclined to offer you a lower rate. A 20% down payment also eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance.
Pay points: Mortgage points are interest you pay up front in exchange for a lower interest rate.
Whether or not a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage makes sense for you depends on several factors, such as your finances and how long you plan to remain in your home. You can also consider an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) with a 30-year term.
A 30-year fixed mortgage is a good idea if you:
Want smaller mortgage payments
Plan to remain in your home for many years
Prefer consistent payments over the life of the loan
A 30-year loan might not be the best choice if you:
Prefer to pay as little interest as possible, even if it means higher monthly payments
Want to build equity quicker
Plan on moving in the next few years — consider an ARM instead
Refinancing your 30-year fixed mortgage can help you achieve a number of goals. If interest rates have declined significantly since you took out your loan, you can refinance at a lower rate to save on interest. Reducing the rate and starting from scratch with a new 30-year loan will also lower your payments, making your mortgage more affordable month-to-month.
You also might refinance if you want to draw from your home equity. With a cash-out refinance, you borrow more than you need to pay off your current mortgage loan. You’re then given the difference in cash, which you can use to pay off high-interest debt, repair or improve your home, or put toward the purchase of a second home.
The refinance loan process is essentially the same as the purchase loan process. As such, you’ll likely have to pay the same fees. Do some research before you apply to make sure closing costs won’t cancel out any financial benefit you’ll gain by refinancing.
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