If you're shopping for a home loan, see how your payments might be affected by rising interest rates.
Katherine Watt Contributor
Katherine Watt is a CNET Money writer focusing on mortgages, home equity and banking. She previously wrote about personal finance for NextAdvisor. Based in New York, Katherine graduated summa cum laude from Colgate University with a bachelor's degree in English literature.
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Over the past week, a few key mortgage rates increased. The average interest rates for 15-year fixed and 30-year fixed mortgages both grew. We also saw an increase in the average rate of 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.
As inflation surged in 2022, so too did mortgage rates. To rein in price growth, the Federal Reserve began bumping up its federal funds rate, a short-term interest rate that determines what banks charge each other to borrow money. By making it more expensive to borrow, the central bank's goal is to reduce prices by curtailing consumer spending.
During its July 26 meeting, the Fed initiated a hike of 25 basis points (or 0.25%) to its federal funds rate, marking its 11th increase in the current rate-hiking cycle. The most recent increase could have an impact on mortgage rates, but experts say the markets may have already factored it into rates.
Current mortgage rates for August 2023
Mortgage rates change every day. Experts recommend shopping around to make sure you're getting the lowest rate. By entering your information below, you can get a custom quote from one of CNET's partner lenders.
About these rates:Like CNET, Bankrate is owned by Red Ventures. This tool features partner rates from lenders that you can use when comparing multiple mortgage rates.
"Mortgage rates will continue to ebb and flow week to week, but ultimately, I think rates will stick to that 6% to 7% range we're seeing now," said Jacob Channel, senior economist at loan marketplace LendingTree.
The Fed doesn't set mortgage rates directly, but it does play an influential role. Mortgage rates move around on a daily basis in response to a range of economic factors, including inflation, employment and the broader outlook for the economy. A lower inflation rate is good news for mortgage rates, but the potential for additional hikes from the central bank this year will keep upward pressure on already high rates.
Rather than worrying about mortgage rates, though, homebuyers should focus on what they can control: getting the best rate they can for their financial situation.
To increase your odds at qualifying for the lowest rate available, take the steps necessary to improve your credit score and to save for a down payment. Also, be sure to compare the rates and fees from multiple lenders to get the best deal. Looking at the annual percentage rate, or APR, will show you the total cost of borrowing and help you make an apples-to-apples comparison among lenders.
30-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average 30-year fixed mortgage interest rate is 7.62%, which is an increase of 11 basis points from one week ago. (A basis point is equivalent to 0.01%.) The most frequently used loan term is a 30-year fixed mortgage. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage will usually have a lower monthly payment than a 15-year one -- but typically a higher interest rate. You won't be able to pay off your house as quickly and you'll pay more interest over time, but a 30-year fixed mortgage is a good option if you're looking to minimize your monthly payment.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages
The average rate for a 15-year, fixed mortgage is 6.83%, which is an increase of 11 basis points compared to a week ago. Compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage, a 15-year fixed mortgage with the same loan value and interest rate will have a bigger monthly payment. However, if you can afford the monthly payments, there are several benefits to a 15-year loan. You'll typically get a lower interest rate, and you'll pay less interest in total because you're paying off your mortgage much quicker.
5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages
A 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage has an average rate of 6.50%, an addition of 8 basis points from seven days ago. You'll typically get a lower interest rate (compared to a 30-year fixed mortgage) with a 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage in the first five years of the mortgage. But you may end up paying more after that time, depending on the terms of your loan and how the rate shifts with the market rate. Because of this, an ARM may be a good option if you plan to sell or refinance your house before the rate changes. If not, shifts in the market could significantly increase your interest rate.
Mortgage rate trends
Mortgage rates were historically low throughout most of 2020 and 2021, but increased steadily throughout 2022 as the Federal Reserve began aggressively hiking interest rates. Now, mortgage rates are well above where they were a year ago. What does this mean for homebuyers this year?
"Mortgage rates have hovered in the 6% to 7% range for the past 10 months. Though home prices have softened slightly nationally, the still-high cost of borrowing means hopeful home buyers have felt little relief," said Hannah Jones, economic research analyst at Realtor.com.
However, if inflation continues to decline and the Fed is able to hold rates where they are and eventually cut them, mortgage rates are likely to decrease slightly in 2023. However, they're highly unlikely to return to the rock-bottom levels of just a few years ago.
The most recent housing forecast from Fannie Mae calls for the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate to close out the year at around 6.6%.
"Mortgage rates have been volatile for some time now and while they could eventually start trending down over the next six months to a year as inflation growth continues to cool, their path is probably going to be bumpy," Channel said.
We use information collected by Bankrate to track rate changes over time. This table summarizes the average rates offered by lenders across the US:
Average mortgage interest rates
|30-year jumbo mortgage rate||7.67%||7.57%||+0.10|
|30-year mortgage refinance rate||7.79%||7.67%||+0.12|
Rates as of Aug. 22, 2023.
How to find the best mortgage rates
When you are ready to apply for a loan, you can reach out to a local mortgage broker or search online. In order to find the best home mortgage, you'll need to take into account your goals and current finances.
Specific mortgage interest rates will vary based on factors including credit score, down payment, debt-to-income ratio and loan-to-value ratio. Having a higher credit score, a higher down payment, a low DTI, a low LTV or any combination of those factors can help you get a lower interest rate.
The interest rate isn't the only factor that affects the cost of your home. Be sure to also consider other factors such as fees, closing costs, taxes and discount points. Make sure you speak with several different lenders -- for example, local and national banks, credit unions and online lenders -- and comparison shop to find the best mortgage loan for you.
What's the best loan term?
When picking a mortgage, it's important to consider the loan term, or payment schedule. The most common mortgage terms are 15 years and 30 years, although 10-, 20- and 40-year mortgages also exist. Another important distinction is between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages. For fixed-rate mortgages, interest rates are fixed for the life of the loan. Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest rates for an adjustable-rate mortgage are only set for a certain amount of time (commonly five, seven or 10 years). After that, the rate adjusts annually based on the market rate.
When choosing between a fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgage, you should consider the length of time you plan to live in your home. If you plan on living long-term in a new house, fixed-rate mortgages may be the better option. Fixed-rate mortgages offer more stability over time compared to adjustable-rate mortgages, but adjustable-rate mortgages might offer lower interest rates upfront. However, you might get a better deal with an adjustable-rate mortgage if you only intend to keep your house for a few years. The best loan term is entirely dependent on an individual's situation and goals, so make sure to think about what's important to you when choosing a mortgage.