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Latest mortgage rates: Refinancing clock is ticking as rates rise

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Mortgage rates resumed rising this week, reminding homeowners of the urgency of refinancing. The average rate on 30-year mortgages rose to 3.21 percent from 3.13 percent last week, according to Bankrate’s weekly survey of large lenders.

Mortgage experts expect rates to continue to move up from the all-time bottom achieved earlier this year. A year ago, the benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.05 percent. Four weeks ago, the rate was 3.03 percent. The 30-year fixed-rate average for this week is 0.13 percentage point below the 52-week high of 3.34 percent, and 0.28 percentage points higher than the 52-week low of 2.93 percent.

The 30-year fixed mortgages in this week’s survey had an average total of 0.3 discount and origination points.

Over the past 52 weeks, the 30-year fixed has averaged 3.10 percent.

Where mortgage rates are headed

Mortgage experts offer mixed predictions about the direction of rates in the next week. In Bankrate’s survey this week, 55 percent of respondents predict rates will stay the same in the coming week (Oct. 14-20), 36 percent say they’ll rise and 9 percent predict a decline.

“Rates rates will inevitably trend higher in coming months,” says James Sahnger of C2 Financial Corp. in Jupiter, Florida. “If you haven’t refinanced, time to get busy doing so.”

Refinances are still a pretty good deal at these rates

Rates are a cut above the record lows reached earlier this year, but refinancing remains a historically excellent deal. The rate on 10-year bonds issued by the U.S. government has stayed at 1.5 percent this week. The 10-year Treasury is closely tied to 30-year mortgage rates.

Economists generally expect rates to rise by the end of 2021. As mortgage rates make a predicted slow climb to the 3.5 percent range by year’s end, decreased purchasing power might ease some of the pressure on home prices as marginal buyers are pushed out of the market, but competition will still be intense among those who can still afford to buy. Those looking to refinance should be able to find good deals for the rest of the year, though at rates at bit higher than the current level.

The bottom line: If you see a rate that fits your needs and budget, the time to do that refinance could be now. In fact, many homeowners with a mortgage haven’t taken advantage of the low rate environment. Among homeowners with a mortgage they’ve had since before the pandemic, 74 percent have not refinanced, according to a recent Bankrate survey.

“The overwhelming majority of mortgage borrowers have not yet refinanced, despite record-low rates over the past year,” says Greg McBride, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. “Cutting the monthly mortgage payment by $150 or $250, possibly more, can create valuable breathing room in the household budget at a time when so many other costs are on the rise.”

You can do better than the average

The average national rates, however are just an average. You can do better by shopping around. The average rate for mortgages clicked on by Bankrate readers Tuesday was 2.62 percent, up from 2.47 percent the previous Tuesday.

This “clicked-on” rate reflects purchase mortgages and refinances with all terms, including 30-year and 15-year loans. The rates may include discount points.

The sweetest deals come with caveats. For instance, to score the best combination of rate and costs, you’ll generally need a credit score of 740 or higher and a down payment of 20 percent or more. And many of the lowest rates posted on Bankrate.com include discount points, a way of buying down the rate by paying more at closing.

Methodology

The Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders is conducted weekly. To conduct the National Average survey, Bankrate obtains rate information from the 10 largest banks and thrifts in 10 large U.S. markets. In the Bankrate.com national survey, our Market Analysis team gathers rates and/or yields on banking deposits, loans and mortgages. We’ve conducted this survey in the same manner for more than 30 years, and because it’s consistently done the way it is, it gives an accurate national apples-to-apples comparison. Our rates differ from other national surveys, in particular Freddie Mac’s weekly published rates. Each week Freddie Mac surveys lenders on the rates and points based on first-lien prime conventional conforming home purchase mortgages with a loan-to-value of 80 percent. “Lenders surveyed each week are a mix of lender types – thrifts, credit unions, commercial banks and mortgage lending companies – is roughly proportional to the level of mortgage business that each type commands nationwide,” according to Freddie Mac.

Written by
Jeff Ostrowski
Senior mortgage reporter
Jeff Ostrowski covers mortgages and the housing market. Before joining Bankrate in 2020, he wrote about real estate and the economy for the Palm Beach Post and the South Florida Business Journal.