Today’s mortgage and refinance rates: May 23, 2021 | Rates increase

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Most mortgage rates are up since last Sunday and this time last month. Refinance rates have fluctuated since last Sunday, but many rates have increased since April 23.

Even though rates are a little higher today than last week and last month, you probably don’t need to worry about a drastic rate increase anytime soon. Inflation and employment in the US need to improve for an extended period of time for mortgage rates to go up. So rates should stay low for a few more months, if not longer.

To take advantage of low rates by applying for preapproval with a lender. When you receive a preapproval letter, your rate is usually locked in for 60 to 90 days.

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Learn more and get offers from multiple lenders »

Fixed mortgage rates are much lower than adjustable rates today.

Rates for conventional mortgages, which you may consider “regular mortgages,” are already low right now. But you can usually get an even better rate with a government-backed mortgage through the FHA or VA, depending on which term length you choose. Government mortgages are good options if you’re eligible.

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Compare offers from refinancing lenders »

The lowest refinance rate today is the 15-year fixed mortgage rate.

Most 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

Mortgage rates have increased since last Sunday and this time last month, with the exception of FHA rates. 

Refinance rate trends

Refinance rates have fluctuated since last Sunday. Rates are up since this time last month, except FHA rates, which are down by 14 basis points.

If you get a 15-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your mortgage over 15 years, and your interest rate will remain the same the entire time.

You’ll make higher monthly payments with a 15-year term than a longer term because you’re paying off the same loan principal in fewer years. 

However, a 15-year term will cost you less than a 30-year term. You’ll get a lower interest rate and you’ll pay off your mortgage in a shorter amount of time. 

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. 

An adjustable-rate mortgage, or ARM, locks in your rate for a predetermined amount of time. Then your rate will fluctuate periodically. A 7/1 ARM keeps your rate constant for seven years, then your rate will increase or decrease once per year.

ARM rates are now at historic lows right now, but you may still want a fixed rate.

Fixed rates are starting lower than ARM rates, so it could be the right time to lock in a low rate with a fixed mortgage. You also won’t risk your rate increasing later, as you would with an ARM.

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

We’ve also provided rates for FHA and VA mortgages. These are two types of government-backed mortgages. Another type is a USDA mortgage, a less common loan for buyers who live in rural areas.

Government-backed mortgages are backed by government agencies. If you default on your payments, the agency compensates the lender. Because these mortgages are less risky than conventional mortgages, lenders are more lax about your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or down payment. They also tend to come with lower interest rates.

Government-backed mortgages can be great deals if you qualify. Here are your options:

  • FHA mortgage: This type of loan isn’t limited to a certain type of person. But it’s especially useful if your credit score isn’t high enough to qualify for a conventional mortgage.
  • VA mortgage: You may be eligible if you’re an active military member or veteran.
  • USDA mortgage: You’ll qualify if you live in a rural area and fall under a certain income limit.

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, bank accounts, bank reviews, and loans. In his past experience writing about personal finance, he has written about credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

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