Bernadette Gatsby/Unsplash

Bernadette Gatsby/Unsplash

Mortgage rates moved in different directions today, but one key rate trended upward. The average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage cruised higher, but the average rate on a 15-year fixed was down. On the variable-mortgage side, the average rate on 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages held firm.

Rates for mortgages are constantly changing, but they remain low by historical standards. If you’re in the market for a mortgage, it could make sense to lock if you see a rate you like. Just be sure to shop around.

Find the right mortgage rate for your specific criteria.

30-year fixed mortgages

The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage is 3.55 percent, an increase of 1 basis point over the last seven days. Last month on the 19th, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was higher, at 3.56 percent.

At the current average rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $451.84 for every $100,000 you borrow. Compared to last week, that’s $0.56 higher.

You can use Bankrate’s mortgage rate calculator to estimate your monthly payments and see how much you’ll save by adding extra payments. It will also help you calculate how much interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

15-year fixed mortgages

The average 15-year fixed-mortgage rate is 2.94 percent, down 19 basis points over the last week.

Monthly payments on a 15-year fixed mortgage at that rate will cost around $688 per $100,000 borrowed. That’s clearly much higher than the monthly payment would be on a 30-year mortgage at that rate, but it comes with some big advantages: You’ll save thousands of dollars over the life of the loan in total interest paid and build equity much more rapidly.

5/1 ARMs

The average rate on a 5/1 ARM is 3.31 percent, unchanged since the same time last week.

These types of loans are best for those who expect to refinance or sell before the first or second adjustment. Rates could be substantially higher when the loan first adjusts, and thereafter.

Monthly payments on a 5/1 ARM at 3.31 percent would cost about $439 for each $100,000 borrowed over the initial five years, but could ratchet higher by hundreds of dollars afterward, depending on the loan’s terms.

Where rates are headed

To see where Bankrate’s panel of experts expect rates to go from here, check out our Mortgage rate predictions for this week.

Want to see where rates are at this moment? Lenders nationwide respond to Bankrate.com’s weekday mortgage rates survey to bring you the most current rates available. Here you can see the latest marketplace average rates for a wide variety of purchase loans:

Average mortgage interest rates
Product Rate Last week Change
30-year fixed 3.55% 3.54% +0.01
15-year fixed 2.94% 3.13% -0.19
30-year fixed jumbo 3.67% 3.65% +0.02
30-year fixed refinance 3.64% 3.65% -0.01

Rates as of May 19, 2020.

When to lock your mortgage rate

A rate lock guarantees your interest rate for a specified period of time. It’s common for lenders to offer 30-day rate locks for a fee or to include the price of the rate lock into your loan. Some lenders will lock rates for longer periods, even exceeding 60 days, but those locks can be costly. In today’s volatile market, some lenders will lock an interest rate for only two weeks to avoid unnecessary risk.

The benefit of a rate lock is that if interest rates rise, you’re locked into the guaranteed rate. Some lenders have a floating-rate lock option, which allows you to get a lower rate if interest rates fall before you close your loan. In a falling rate environment, a float-down lock could be worth the cost. Because there is no guarantee of where mortgage rates will head in the future, it may be smart to lock in a low rate instead of holding out on rates for potentially decline further.

It’s important to keep in mind: During the pandemic, all aspects of real estate and mortgage closings are taking much longer than usual. Expect the closing on a new mortgage to take at least 60 days, with refinancing taking at least a month.

What causes mortgage rates to change

Mortgage rates are influenced by a range of economic factors, from inflation to unemployment numbers. Typically, higher inflation means higher interest rates and vice versa. As inflation rises, the dollar loses value, which in turn drives off investors for mortgage-backed securities, causing the prices to fall and yields to climb. When yields climb, rates get more expensive for borrowers.

Generally speaking, when the economy is strong, more people buy homes. That drives demand for mortgages. Increased demand for mortgages can cause rates to increase. The opposite is also true; less demand can lead to lower rates.

Current mortgage rate landscape

The current mortgage rate environment has been unstable because of the coronavirus pandemic, but generally rates have been low. Mortgage rates are rising and falling from week to week, as lenders are inundated with forbearance and refinance requests. In general, however, rates are consistently below 4 percent and even dipping into the mid to low 3s. This is an especially good time for people with good to excellent credit to lock in a low rate for a purchase loan. However, lenders are also raising credit standards for borrowers and demanding higher down payments as they try to dampen their risks.

Methodology: The rates you see above are Bankrate.com Site Averages. These calculations are run after the close of the previous business day and include rates and/or yields we have collected that day for a specific banking product. Bankrate.com site averages tend to be volatile — they help consumers see the movement of rates day to day. The institutions included in the “Bankrate.com Site Average” tables will be different from one day to the next, depending on which institutions’ rates we gather on a particular day for presentation on the site.

To learn more about the different rate averages Bankrate publishes, see “Understanding Bankrate’s average rates.”

Shopping for a mortgage lender? Check out Bankrate’s lender reviews here.

See rates for a variety of loan types
Loan term Purchase Rates Refinance Rates
The index above links out to loan-specific content to help our readers learn more about rates by product type.
30-Year Loan 30-Year Interest Rates 30-Year Refinance Interest Rates
20-Year Loan 20-Year Fixed Mortgage Rates Current 20-Year Refinance Rates
15-Year Loan 15-Year Mortgage Interest Rates 15-Year Refinance Rates
10-Year Loan Current 10 Year Mortgage Rates Current 10-Year Refinance Rates
FHA Loan FHA Mortgage Loan Rates Current FHA Loan Refinance Rates
VA Loan VA Mortgage Interest Rates VA Refi Interest Rates
ARM Loan Adjustable Rate Mortgage Rates ARM Refi Mortage Rates
Jumbo Loan Jumbo Loan Rates Current Jumbo Refinance Rates