Today’s mortgage and refinance rates: May 15, 2021 | Rates increase

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Mortgage and refinance rates have increased since last Saturday. With the exception of 15-year fixed rates, all rates have also gone up since this point last month.

Mortgage rates had mostly been trending downward for several weeks. So even though today’s rates have gone up, they’re still relatively low overall. It could still be a good time to lock in a rate.

To lock in a mortgage rate, apply for preapproval with a lender. Once you’re preapproved, your rate is usually locked in for 60 to 90 days. You can also apply with multiple lenders if you’re shopping around for the best rate.

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Learn more and get offers from multiple lenders »

Although today’s mortgage rates are low overall, adjustable rates are much higher than fixed rates.

Rates for conventional mortgages, which you may consider “normal mortgages,” are already low right now. But government-backed mortgages through the FHA and VA usually pay even lower rates, depending on which term length you choose. Government mortgages are good options if you qualify.

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Compare offers from refinancing lenders »

The lowest refinance rates today are the 15-year fixed rate and VA mortgage rate.

Mortgage rates are up since last weekend, but they’re still low overall. It could be a good time to lock in a rate.

But rates probably won’t significantly increase anytime soon, so you don’t have to rush to take advantage of low rates. Rates will probably remain low for several months, if not longer. You may have time to improve your finances to get a better rate. 

To get the best possible rate, consider these steps before applying:  

  • Boost your credit score by making payments on time, paying down debt, or letting your credit age. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will likely be.
  • Save more for a down paymentThe minimum down payment you’ll need depends on which type of mortgage you are after. But a higher down payment usually results in a lower rate.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount you pay toward debts each month, divided by your gross monthly income. Most lenders want to see a ratio of 36% or less. To lower your ratio, pay down debts or consider ways to increase your income. 

You can secure a low rate now if your finances are in good shape, but you don’t need to rush to get a mortgage or refinance if you’re not prepared. 

Mortgage rate trends

All mortgage rates are up since last Saturday. The 15-year fixed rate has gone down a little since last month, but other rates have gone up.

Refinance rate trends

Refinance rates are also up since last Saturday. They’ve also increased since April 15, with the exception of 15-year fixed rates.

If you take out a 15-year fixed mortgage, it will take you 15 years to pay off your loan, and you’ll pay the same interest rate the entire time.

You’ll pay more per month with a 15-year fixed mortgage than a 30-year fixed mortgage, because you’ll pay off the same mortgage principal in half the time. 

On the plus side, a 15-year term will cost less than a longer term. You’ll pay off the mortgage in fewer years, and you’ll get a lower interest rate.  

With a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your loan over 30 years, and you’ll lock in your interest rate for the entire term. 

You’ll pay less per month with a 30-year fixed mortgage than with a shorter term because you’re splitting up your payments over more years.  

But it will cost you more in interest with a 30-year term than with a 15-year term, as you’re paying a higher interest rate for longer. 

A fixed-rate mortgage locks in your rate for your the life of your mortgage. But with an adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll pay the same interest rate for a predetermined period, then that rate will change regularly. A 10/1 ARM keeps your rate the same for a decade. Then your rate will fluctuate yearly.

Currently, ARM rates are at all-time lows, but you might still want to go for a fixed-rate mortgage. You can avoid the trouble of a potential future rate increase with an ARM and secure a low rate for 15 or 30 years. 

If you’re considering getting an ARM, ask your lender what your rates would be if you chose a fixed-rate versus an adjustable-rate mortgage.

We’re also displaying rates for FHA and VA mortgages, two kinds of government-backed mortgages

Government mortgages are backed by federal agencies, so the agency compensates your lender if you default on your mortgage. These mortgages are less risky than conventional mortgages for lenders, so requirements for your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or down payment tend to be more lax.

Government mortgages also often have lower interest rates.

Government home loans can be great deals if you’re eligible to get one. Here are your options:

  • FHA mortgage: This type of loan isn’t limited to a certain type of person. But it’s particularly useful if your credit score isn’t good enough to qualify for a conventional mortgage. Many lenders offer FHA loans to people with scores as low as 580.
  • VA mortgage: You’ll likely qualify if you’re an active military member or veteran.
  • USDA mortgage: You’ll be eligible if you fall under a certain income limit and buy a home in a rural area.

Mortgage and refinance rates by state

Check the latest rates in your state at the links below. 

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Washington DC
West Virginia

About the authors

Laura Grace Tarpley is an editor at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, and lending. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her five years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to navigate loans.

Ryan Wangman is a reviews fellow at Personal Finance Insider reporting on mortgages, refinancing, loans, bank accounts, and bank reviews. In his past experience writing about personal finance, he has written about credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

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