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MORTGAGE RATES

Navigating Up and Down Mortgage Interest Rates

Written By:
August 08, 2013 at 2:04 AM

Whether you're a first time home buyer or purchasing a new home or looking for mortgage refinance, the recent trend of mortgage rates rising can be a cause for some anxiety. Even with the recent interest rate spike of more than a half a percentage point —the biggest increase in 26 years, before retreating, it’s important to keep in mind that rates are still extremely low from a historical perspective.

The interest rate gyrations may have sent some people to the sidelines instead of them taking a loan at a higher rate. The truth of the matter is that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage currently average 4.37 percent.

The product is more than one percentage point higher than it was three months ago. For many homeowners who have been in the housing market during periods of much higher rates, the average mortgage rate is not too bad.

Looking for lower rates

Higher rates have affected the number of mortgage transactions as mortgage lenders report fewer mortgage applications, including purchase applications and refinances. Nonetheless, homeowners and potential buyers should try to save as much money on interest rates as possible—there are some moves you can make to cut thousands of dollars off a new mortgage.

1. Buy a shorter term mortgage – Among the many loan option offered by lenders is to the option to undertake a 15-year mortgage instead of the benchmark 30-year product. You will need to have the income to take on a higher monthly mortgage payment in exchange for paying the loan off faster. If you pay a percentage point less in interest rate, you will shave tens of thousands of dollars.

Compared to the 30-year, fixed rate loan, you will save nearly double the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Check out the MortgageRefinance loan calculator to look at different options.

2. Make a larger down payment – If you can, make a more sizable down payment than the loan normally required. For example, you can avoid mortgage insurance cost by putting down at least 20 percent. In addition, you gain a smaller mortgage payment and the amount of interest paid over time.

3. Buy down the interest rate – Mortgage lenders have a standard current rate for various mortgage products. Borrowers can choose a lower interest rate but will have to pay an extra cost. Lenders quote this cost in “points” or “discount points.” For example, a person seeking a $275,000 mortgage , one point would be $2,750. You need to run the numbers to be sure it makes financial sense.

4. Make extra payments – Along with m paying the monthly mortgage amount, make extra payments, which pays off the mortgage faster. A common practice is simply to make extra payments, such as when you get an annual bonus at work. You can cut hundreds of dollars in interest payments off your loan.

Affects on housing recovery

Most economists do not believe higher mortgage rate alone will stunt the housing market recovery. However, when combined with home price appreciation, rising interest rates make homes less affordable and can slow the pace of home sales. While the volatile mortgage interest rates may scare off some borrowers-and they will continue to rent for now.

The consensus seems to be that the worse is over for rate increases and do not expect rates to go above 5 percent. The Federal Reserve recent announcement that it will not scale back its asset-buying program later this year should help provide some stability in the interest rates market.

The $85 billion a month program has played a key role in fueling the housing market by keeping mortgage interest rates low making mortgage refinancing and home buying more attractive.

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