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Mortgage guide: What to know before getting a mortgage
The information below consists of information and tips that will be helpful in selecting the best mortgage for your financial situation.
Bankrate expert weekly mortgage rate insight
Mortgage rates dipped during the week ending Sept. 15, extending the opportunity for homeowners hoping to refinance their home loans before rates start moving up in earnest. The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.03 percent, down 2 basis points from the previous week, according to Bankrate's national survey of lenders. Rates reached a record low of 2.93 percent in January.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 2.29 percent from 2.37 percent the previous week. The 30-year fixed-rate loans in this week's survey included an average total of 0.35 discount and origination points.
You might be able to find an even better deal: The mortgage offers advertised on Bankrate.com were just 2.42 percent as of Sept. 11. This “clicked-on” rate reflects purchase mortgages and refinances with all terms, including 30- and 15-year loans. The rates may include discount points.
Bankrate survey: Young Americans plan to continue delaying the homebuying process
Many Americans are postponing at least one major life event because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Bankrate survey. 39 percent of respondents say they’ve delayed buying or leasing a car, buying a home, getting married, having a child or taking another significant step.
Some 12 percent of respondents to Bankrate’s survey say they delayed buying a house, relieving some of the pressure on a booming housing market characterized by a sharp shortage of inventory. More than half of homebuyers who delayed real estate purchases anticipate waiting nine months or longer. Younger buyers were more likely to say they’re waiting.
By age group, homebuying delays are expected by 18 percent of those ages 18 to 34, 15 percent of Americans 35 to 54 and just 5 percent of those 55 and older.
The supply of existing homes for sale is near record lows, in part because homeowners decided not to sell during the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, homebuilders haven’t ramped up to historical levels. While there’s a shortage of homes for sale, there’s a glut of buyers vying for homes. That has resulted in bidding wars and soaring prices.
How to navigate your finances in uncertain times
The economic outlook has brightened considerably in recent months, but the U.S. economy remains on shaky footing. Here’s what you can do to prepare your finances for the next crisis:
- Make a plan. Get your financial life in shape. Determine how much you’ll spend, how much you’ll save and how you’ll tackle high-interest debt. If you plan to buy a home in the future, factor a down payment into your savings plan. Now can be a good time to shore up those funds while you wait for housing inventory to open up or decide where you want to live. Having a bigger down payment can help you get more favorable loan terms and afford more house for your money.
- Build a rainy-day fund. You’ll sleep better once you’ve amassed an emergency fund equal to about six months’ worth of your expenses. Stash the cash in a liquid and accessible vehicle, such as a high-yield savings account. Shop around for the best rate, and for an account that fits your needs.
- Consider refinancing debt. Mortgage rates have risen slightly from record lows, but millions of homeowners still could shave hundreds of dollars from monthly payments by refinancing. If you’re carrying high-cost credit card debt, check if a balance transfer card is right for you.
Do you already own a home and want to refinance?
Refinancing your mortgage can be a good financial move if you lock in a lower rate. However, there are upfront costs associated with refinancing, such as appraisals, underwriting fees and taxes, so you’ll want to be sure the savings outpace the refinance price tag in a reasonable amount of time, say 18 to 24 months.
While mortgage rates have risen from the record lows of late 2020 and early 2021, they remain at historically low levels. That means millions of homeowners still could save by refinancing. Reducing your rate isn’t the only reason to refinance. It’s also possible to tap into your home equity to pay for home renovations. Or, if you want to pay down your mortgage more quickly, you can shorten your term to 20, 15 or even 10 years. And because home values have risen sharply, it’s possible that a refinance could free you from paying for private mortgage insurance.
For more information, visit Bankrate’s mortgage refinancing hub. Learn more about refinance rates.
Mortgage rates in other states
- United States
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