Mortgage and refinance rates today, September 24, 2020

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates inched lower again yesterday. But the move was so small it was barely perceptible. And conventional loans today start at 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 24th, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.875% 2.875% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.625% 2.625% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.756% +0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.226% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.239% -0.01%
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.419% -0.01%
Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 24th, 2020)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

In yesterday’s version of this article, we reiterated what we’ve been saying for a while:

  1. Mortgage rates have been moving very little in recent months
  2. The overall direction of travel has been gently downward — punctuated by small, brief spikes
  3. The risk of unexpected volatility never goes away
  4. The most likely source of such volatility is news about the pandemic

Now, with 39 days to the presidential (and general) election, we should probably add that as another potential source of volatility.

Traditionally, markets can be skittish before these events. Investors usually favor Republican candidates because of their pro-business, low-tax, light-regulation agendas. But it’s not always like that. And other factors may weigh this time.

Of course, markets usually settle down soon after each election, whoever wins. But there is an added danger now: the possibility of a disputed result. Investors hate uncertainty and a long, drawn-out court drama is the last thing they want. Not that one would necessarily disadvantage mortgage borrowers.

For now, my personal recommendations stand. But I may revisit them as the clock ticks down to Nov. 3.

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Compare top refinance lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys inched down to 0.67% from 0.68%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were lower. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices edged lower to $39.73 from $39.96 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices dipped to $1,856 from $1,889 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower.
  •  CNN Business Fear & Greed index tumbled to 41 from 55 out of a possible 100 points. (Good for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or a matter of cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Before the pandemic and the Fed’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today they’re looking a little better for mortgage rates. Disappointing weekly jobless claims added to a gloomy mood as investors’ hopes for further federal stimulus measures fade.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 24th, 2020)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (at least $1 trillion; some say nearly $2 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. At times of high demand, lenders can push up rates as a way of managing their workflow. Neither markets nor the Fed can help when that happens

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months. But check out what 10 experts think could happen between now and the end of this year:

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we’ve gotten close to others since. Still, a new one remains a real possibility.

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

And here are their current rates forecasts for the last two quarters of 2020 (Q3/20 and Q4/20) and the first two of 2021 (Q1/21 and Q2/21).

Note that Fannie’s (published Sept. 15) and the MBA’s (Sept. 21) are updated monthly. However, Freddie’s are published quarterly, with the last released in June and the next due any day. So Freddie’s currently feel stale. The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q3/20 Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21
Fannie Mae 3.0% 2.8% 2.8% 2.7%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.3% 3.2% 3.2%
MBA 3.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%

So expectations vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

Everyone — from federal regulators to personal finance gurus — agrees that shopping around for your new mortgage or refinance is important. You could save thousands over just a few years by getting quotes from multiple lenders. And more, if you keep your mortgage for a long time or have a large loan.

But you’ve rarely had more to gain by shopping around than you do now. The mortgage market is currently very messy. And some lenders are offering appreciably lower rates than others. Worse, some are making it harder to get any mortgage at all if you want a cash-out refinance, a loan for an investment property, a jumbo loan or if your credit score is damaged.

So start shopping around soon for your new mortgage or refinance. You’re most likely to find a great deal on the type of loan you want if you spread your net widely.

Verify your new rate (Sep 24th, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

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What to do when your CARES Act mortgage forbearance ends


Is your mortgage currently in forbearance?

Mortgage forbearance provided a lifeline for millions of homeowners during the difficult months of the pandemic.

But with the six-month end date for many forbearance plans rapidly approaching, homeowners will have to decide how to move forward.

Do you need to extend your COVID forbearance plan for another six months?

Or, are you ready to exit? If so, what are your options?

Here’s what you need to know if your mortgage forbearance plan is ending soon.

Millions of COVID forbearance plans are about to end

The CARES Act offered much-needed mortgage relief for U.S. homeowners.

Under the Act, if you have any mortgage backed by the federal government— including conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loans — you can pause your mortgage payments for up to six months with no penalties.

As shown in the chart below, millions of homeowners opted in for CARES Act mortgage forbearance in March and April, when the economy took its first hard hit.

Chart showing the number of new forbearance plans over time. New forbearance plans spiked in March and April, then leveled off in May through August. Source: Black Knight

To date, the majority of homeowners who opted for mortgage relief are still in their forbearance plans.

But with the initial six month deadline nearing, many will be approaching their forbearance deadlines in September and October.

Chart showing the number of active forbearance plans for U.S. mortgages, which has hardly dropped since the initial spike in March and April. Source: Black Knight

So, what are you supposed to do if your forbearance plan is ending?

You’re free to exit forbearance if you’re able to resume making mortgage payments. If not, you might be able to extend your forbearance plan.

We’ll walk you through your optinos below.

Most forbearance plans can be extended for 6 more months

Six months of forbearance may have provided you a welcome buffer period to get back on solid financial ground.

But if you continue to experience money problems due to lack of employment, medical bills, or otherwise, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to pay the mortgage.

The good news? You can get a six-month extension on your loan forbearance.

That means a total mortgage forbearance period of 12 months on your government-backed loan if you need it.

Conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loan holders can opt for another 6 months of mortgage forbearance if necessary, for a total of 12 months of mortgage relief

“From the date you seek to have forbearance, you will be entitled to that forbearance for up to one year, with an extension after the first six months of your forbearance,” explains David Shapiro, president and CEO of EquiFi Corporation.

“Forbearance plans are based on when you requested them. So if a homeowner requested forbearance in March or April at the beginning of the pandemic, September or October would be the end for the first 180 days.”

How do you request an extension?

Dongshin Kim, assistant professor of finance and real estate at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, says your loan servicer should provide you an option to extend forbearance another 180 days if you need it.

“Loan servicers are supposed to reach out to borrowers 30 days before the forbearance plan is scheduled to end to help them understand what options they have for repayment,” says Kim.

Your loan servicer should reach out 30 days before your forbearance plan ends to discuss your options

But you shouldn’t necessarily wait for your lender or servicer to contact you about this option.

“If you need to continue your forbearance, contact your mortgage servicer well ahead of your forbearance end date,” recommends Jackie Boies, senior director of housing services at Money Management International.

“You need to prepare for relief to end now. Do not wait until you get your statement to ask a lender for help. Instead, contact them now, let them know your financial situation, and see how they can help.”

Strategies for exiting mortgage forbearance

If you are ready to exit your forbearance on time, after six months, be prepared for what happens next.

“Forbearance is not loan forgiveness. Borrowers will still owe the principal and interest that they didn’t pay during the forbearance period,” notes Kim.

“Borrowers will need to make both the regular mortgage payments and also all the payments they missed while the loan was in forbearance.”

You will typically have several options for repayment once forbearance expires:

  1. Full repayment, which is a one-time lump sum payment. It’s possible to pay back all the missed payments at once. But lenders are NOT allowed to require this. “If you are unable to pay the lump sum, you have other options,” says Boies
  2. Intermittent payments, where you arrange repayment with your servicer over three, six, nine, or 12 months –—whichever makes the most sense — on top of your regular payments
  3. Lengthen your loan term and pay off the missed amount at the end of the extended loan term, with additional mortgage payments
  4. Defer your repayment. This option lets you pay off the missed amount at the time the home is sold, refinanced, or the mortgage term ends
  5. Pursue a loan modification. “This helps borrowers who are at risk of default change their mortgage terms – usually including a lower interest rate, reduced length of the loan, or reduced monthly payment,” adds Boies

The right option for you depends on your current finances, employment status, and ability to resume mortgage payments.

When your loan servicer contacts you, be sure to discuss every option in detail so you know exactly what to expect with the repayment plan you select.

The experts warn that you should anticipate a few possible snags and setbacks post-forbearance, especially when it’s time to contact your loan servicer.

“Borrowers should expect very long delays and may experience inconsistency in customer support representatives,” cautions Shapiro.

“Loan servicing organizations are not all properly staffed for the expected volume of forbearances, and they can’t train support agents fast enough to meet their needs.

“Also,” Shapiro continues, “be prepared for process changes, as regulators react to the crisis in real-time and create new rules or modify existing rules.”

Even if you can’t get through on the first few contact attempts, don’t give up.

“Be patient, but be persistent. Mortgage servicers have struggled to keep up with calls during the COVID crisis, but many have made online options easy and added staffing,” says Boies.

Keep a close eye on your credit report and score

Also, if your mortgage has been in forbearance, check your credit report carefully.

CARES Act rules state that mortgages in forbearance should not be reported as having late or missed payments. And the forbearance plan should not harm your credit score.

But this is another area where mistakes can happen.

“Sometimes there can be mistakes and issues with credit scores that can pop up around forbearance,” Kim says.

Remember, lenders and servicers have never before had to deal with mortgage forbearances on this scale. So it’s up to the borrower to be extra-vigilant and make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Check your loan statements every month and stay on top of your credit report.

Remember, you get one free credit report per week through April 2021. So you can keep a closer eye on it than usual.

What if you still can’t afford your mortgage payments after forbearance?

The worst-case scenario: Forbearance ends and you still can’t pay your monthly mortgage. What can you do?

“You’ll probably need to consider disposition options,” says Boies.

“This may include selling your home if you can no longer afford it. Foreclosure, short sale, and deed-in-lieu are other ways of disposing of a home you can’t afford.”

Boies warns, “These options may be damaging to your credit and should be reserved until you’ve exhausted all other solutions.”

You can end forbearance early, too

You don’t have to wait for a six- or 12-month forbearance period to come to an end. Instead, you can opt to exit forbearance earlier than expected.

Just be prepared to pay back the amount you weren’t able to pay while forbearance was in place, cautions Kim.

“The best time to end forbearance is when the borrower is comfortable and able to make payments, including the additional money for repayments they owe,” Kim adds.

If you’re ready to end forbearance, contact your loan servicer and request this.

“But be sure your financial foundation is strong enough, meaning you have some type of emergency fund to back up your ability to pay your mortgage,” suggests Shapiro.

Low rates can make mortgage payments more affordable

For those exiting mortgage forbearance in the next few months, there may be an opportunity to lower your mortgage payments below pre-pandemic levels.

Rates have hit record lows nine times in 2020, and are set to remain low for months — if not years — to come.

Some options for exiting mortgage forbearance would allow homeowners to secure a new, lower rate and make their monthly payments more manageable.

Ask your servicer about loan modification and refinancing.

If these options are avaialble to you, you might be able to exit forbearance much more confidently, knowing that you’ll have a more affordable mortgage payment on the other side.

Verify your new rate (Sep 24th, 2020)

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The best mortgage lenders for 2020: Reviews and rates

The 9 best mortgage lenders for 2020

Below are the nine best mortgage lenders this year. We selected these companies based on their customer service, expertise, selection of loan products, and generally competitive rates.

One of these may be the best mortgage lender for you. Just remember, it’s important to compare options from more than one company before choosing.

You can do that here.

Check your mortgage rates today (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Mortgage Lender

J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Score1

Complaints per 1,000 Customers2

Minimum Credit Score 

Fairway Independent Mortgage

865/1,000 0.08 580

Guild Mortgage Company

864/1,000 0.28 620

Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage

880/1,000 0.47 580

U.S. Bank

852/1,000 0.92 620

loanDepot

849/1,000 0.59 580

Guaranteed Rate

846/1,000 0.33 580

USAA*

900/1,000 0.75 620

Veteran’s United*

891/1,000 0.24 660

Navy Federal Credit Union*

882/1,000 0.74 580

*These lenders only serve veterans, service members, and certain eligible spouses

Check your mortgage rates today (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Editor’s note: The Mortgage Reports may be compensated by some of these lenders if you choose to work with them. However, that does not affect our reviews. See our full editorial disclosures.


In this article (Skip to…)


The 9 best mortgage lenders

  1. Fairway Independent Mortgage Co.
  2. Guild Mortgage Co.
  3. Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage
  4. US Bank
  5. loanDepot
  6. Guaranteed Rate
  7. USAA
  8. Veterans United
  9. Navy Federal Credit Union

1. Fairway Independent Mortgage

Fairway isn’t the biggest mortgage company. But it earned its top spot among the best mortgage lenders.

That’s because Fairway Independent Mortgage has a winning combination of:

  • Great customer satisfaction scores — “better than most,” according to J.D. Power
  • Almost no complaints from customers — just 0.08 complaints per thousand customers

That means a lot. Customer reviews are the best way to figure out how well a mortgage company is doing its job. And high reviews coupled with low complaints means Fairway is doing exceptionally well.

Other perks of working with Fairway Mortgage include:

  • Great online and app functionality
  • Expert, person-to-person help at the end of the phone
  • Lots of mortgage product choices, including VA and USDA loans
  • Loans for credit scores as low as 580 (but every application is different so that’s not a promise)

What’s the catch? None, really.

But you do have to plug in personal information before you get any kind of rate estimate. So you won’t know how competitive your rate is likely to be at the click of a button.

2. Guild Mortgage Company

In the J.D. Power 2019 Mortgage Origination Study, Guild came just a single point (out of 1,000) behind Fairway. And it ranks second for CFPB complaints.

So you can be highly confident about Guild Mortgage’s customer service standards.

What else is there to like? Well, Guild has:

  • Branches in 31 southern and western states. Licensed in 48 states
  • Wide portfolio of mortgage products
  • You can get a VA loan with a score as low as 580, A USDA loan with 600, and other loan types with 620
  • Will consider alternative credit information if your credit score isn’t high

When comparing competitive quotes from different lenders, just make sure you check Guild’s lender fees.

Some reckon they’re higher than some competitors’.

3. Quicken Loans/Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quicken Loans, so we’re combining their spot in third place.

If you’ve looked at other mortgage lender reviews, you might wonder why Quicken and Rocket aren’t in first place, like they tend to be elsewhere.

There are two reasons. First, because Quicken and Rocket have slightly higher complaint numbers than our top picks.

Second, because their interest rates are often a bit higher than competitors’. (Or on par, but with two or more discount points required— each discount point is a fee equal to 1% of the loan amount.)

In all other regards, though, Quicken and Rocket excel.

They’re America’s biggest mortgage lenders, and have taken first place in J.D. Power’s satisfaction survey 10 years straight.

In, addition, Quicken and Rocket offer:

  • Top-notch technology. Rocket lets you do the whole mortgage process online
  • Great range of products, including Quicken’s “Yourgage,” which effectively lets you pick your own loan term
  • Help if you have a low credit score or lots of debt — 580 minimum score and 50% maximum debt-to-income ratio

On that last point, just remember that each application is treated individually and you may need to be a good borrower in other respects to get either of those.

Choose Quicken if you think you’ll want traditional support from a loan officer and Rocket if you don’t.

Check your mortgage rate with Quicken Loans today, September 23, 2020

Check your mortgage rate with Rocket Mortgage today, September 23, 2020

4. US Bank

US Bank is the only mainstream bank to make it onto our list of the best mortgage lenders. US Bank scored highly for customer service in the J.D. Power survey. So what’s hot about it? Well, it has a:

  • A 3,000-strong network of branches for face-to-face meetings
  • Willingness to consider alternative credit history if you have a lower FICO score
  • Wide portfolio of mortgage types, including FHA, VA, and USDA loans
  • Strong online and mobile functionality

US Bank also offers construction loans, and a no-closing-cost refinance called the Smart Refinance.

Just be aware that it didn’t do so well for CFPB complaints.

5. loanDepot

LoanDepot is another strong contender for fans of technology.

If its claims for its proprietary mello smartloan product are true, loanDepot’s online tools might significantly reduce your closing time.

In addition, loanDepot offers:

  • 200 offices for face-to-face meetings
  • Ultra-slick online services
  • Loan approvals with credit scores as low as 580, though only on limited mortgage types
  • A broad range of mortgages

All in all, loanDepot is good all-around, especially for technophiles. But be ready to deliver plenty of personal data to get an idea of the mortgage rate for which you qualify.

6. Guaranteed Rate

If your only concern is accessing the best mortgage rates then Guaranteed Rate is likely to be on your shortlist. This lender has a reputation for undercutting competitors’ rate offers.

Additionally, Guaranteed Rate boasts:

  • Good customer service scores and few complaints
  • Branches in 46 states. Licensed to lend in all 50
  • Plenty of different types of mortgages to choose from
  • Strong IT functionality for online applications and information

But there’s a caveat to its low-rate offering. This lender specializes in those with good or great credit.

So if your score isn’t top-notch, you may have to look elsewhere.

7. USAA

This credit union topped the J.D. Power survey with a customer satisfaction score of an incredible 900. On that basis, you could argue that it’s the best mortgage lender in America.

The only reason USAA (and the next two companies) are so far down on our list, is that they only serve US military members and veterans. So most people won’t be able to work with them.

Check your eligibility for a VA loan. Start here (Sep 23rd, 2020)

But for those who qualify, USAA mortgage lending has some great perks:

  • You don’t need to get a VA loan; USAA offers other types of mortgages too
  • That said, USAA has years of specialized experience and service for VA loans
  • You may need a minimum credit score of 620 with USAA, even though the VA itself has a lower floor

If you’re eligible for membership, we strongly recommend getting a mortgage quote from USAA.

8. Veterans United

Veterans United is by far and away the most popular (read: biggest lender) for VA home loans.

VU customers are big fans, giving it 891/1,000 in the J.D. Power survey. And of almost 4,400 reviews on Trustpilot (at the time of writing), 95% scored it as excellent while 3% thought it good.

Veterans United also has a lower rate of CFPB complaints even than USAA or Navy Federal.

What else do you need to know? VU has:

  • Great online functionality and 24/7 telephone support
  • A range of mortgages besides VA loans
  • 25 branches nationwide
  • A minimum credit score of 660, in most cases
  • If you have lower credit, Veterans United’s Lighthouse Program will provide you with one-on-one support to help you build it so you qualify

Veterans United is a surefire candidate for your shortlist if you want a VA loan. And its worth considering if you’re a veteran or service member who wants another kind of mortgage.

Check your mortgage rates with Veterans United today, September 23, 2020

9. Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal is another of our military specialists that could claim to be the best mortgage lender.

Why? Its customer satisfaction scores are only a little lower than those of its competitors and easily beat Quicken Loans, which is the top mainstream lender.

And it may give you a lower mortgage rate.

You won’t know that for sure until you get a quote. But our sampling suggests it often beats its main competition on rates.

Navy Federal mortgage also offers:

  • Lower credit score threshold than other big VA lenders, starting at just 580
  • Willingness to consider alternative credit data, such as on-time payments for rent, utilities and so on
  • Slick website with good functionality
  • Lots of different mortgage types, besides VA loans

Again, if you’re eligible for membership with this credit union (the biggest in the world) then you’ll likely add it to your shortlist.

Are local mortgage lenders any good?

You may notice our picks for best mortgage lenders are all large companies.

These major lenders are available to most people, and big enough to rated by official agencies. This lets us review mortgage lenders objectively.

But there are plenty of smaller and local companies worth looking into as well.

Scroll down for resources to help you compare rates and mortgage companies, even if they’re not on this list.

What are mortgage rates today?

Mortgage rates have hit record lows 9 times since the beginning of 2020. Maybe more by the time you read this.

That makes it an uncommonly good time to lock in a rate for a home purchase or refinance.

Below are today’s lowest average rates*, as filed by The Mortgage Reports’ lender network:

Loan Type Today’s Average Rate
Conventional 30-year FRM 2.875% (2.875% APR)
Conventional 15-year FRM 2.625% (2.625% APR)
FHA 30-year FRM 2.25% (3.226% APR)
VA 30-year FRM 2.25% (2.421% APR)
VA 15-year FRM 2.25% (2.571% APR)

*Rates shown reflect averages for “prime” borrowers. Your own rate will vary. See our full loan assumptions here.

Verify your new rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)

How to get the best mortgage rates

Your mortgage rate depends on how “good” your application looks to lenders. To get the lowest rate, you need a high credit score, solid down payment, few debts, and other features that make you look like a responsible borrower.

With that in mind, there are steps you can take leading up to your mortgage application to ensure you get the best rate possible:

  1. Actively manage your credit score — Check out our Guide to improving your credit score for tips
  2. Pay down as much debt as you can — This mostly applies to credit card balances. You want them all to be below 30% of your credit limits. But, if you have a small amount left on an auto loan or personal loan, see if you can pay that off before you apply. That will reduce your monthly outgoings on debt
  3. Shop around with 3-4 lenders, minimum — you could lose thousands or tens of thousands over your mortgage’s lifetime if you apply to just one or two lenders
  4. Compare quotes carefully — Learn how to read your loan estimate, and find the lowest rates and closing costs in this article 
  5. Watch out for closing costs — Don’t be dazzled by headline rates on quotes. See how much you’ll pay on closing, too
  6. Consider buying discount points — Discount points are an option on closing. They let you buy a slightly lower mortgage rate by paying a bit more when you close. If you can afford their cost, model your options using a mortgage calculator

Some lenders sneakily reduce the rates they offer in their quotes by assuming you’re going to buy discount points. Others don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with discount points if you want them. But you need to compare rates on equal footing. So make sure your loan estimates factor in the same amount of points.

How to shop for a mortgage

Different lenders tend to specialize in different types of borrowers.

One might be the best at helping “top-tier” borrowers (those with stellar credit scores, large down payments, etc.), while another might offer much better rates and programs for those with weaker applications.

That means there’s likely a mortgage company out there with a great deal waiting for you.

The catch? You won’t know which one it is until you’ve compared loan estimates side by side.

Plan to dedicate a few hours to filling out applications, before you’ll know which company is really best for you. We recommend checking with three or four lenders minimum.

If you struggle to access your Gmail account, you may find an end-to-end online offering, such as Rocket Mortgage’s, just too much.

But if you live somewhere seriously remote, you might welcome an e-signing option that saves you a lot of traveling.

>> Related: How to shop for a mortgage and compare mortgage rates

Choosing the right loan type

You’ll also need to find the type of mortgage that suits you best.

If you’re eligible for a VA loan, it’s likely you’ll want one. But assuming you’re not, you’ll need to decide whether a conventional, conventional, FHA, USDA or other loan type is best for you.

Compare mortgage loan types:

Loan Type Min. Down Payment Min. Credit Score Mortgage Insurance Required If <20% Down Special Eligibility Requirements
Conventional 3% 620 Yes No
FHA 3.5% 580 Yes No
VA 0% N/A (Often 620) No Yes
USDA 0% 640 Yes Yes

Finding the right loan type is personal.

You have to consider your own goals; for instance, do you want the lowest down payment possible? The lowest monthly payment possible? Do you have a lower credit score and need extra flexibility?

For more information about each loan type and help choosing, see our complete guide to types of home loans.

Get custom loan recommendations (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Mortgage lenders FAQ

Who is the number one mortgage lender?

The straight answer is that Wells Fargo is the number one mortgage lender for loan volume. But the “best” lender for you really depends on the rates and costs you’re quoted. Other top lenders we recommend checking rates from include: Fairway Independent, Guild Mortgage Company, Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage, loanDepot, US Bank, and Guaranteed Rate.

What is the easiest mortgage lender?

Some lenders are more easygoing that others when assessing borrowers. But often lenders’ minimum requirements are imposed on them by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, or the federal government.

These agencies “guarantee” loans, and set thresholds for things like credit scores and down payment sizes. So your first priority is to decide on the best type of mortgage for you.

Government-backed loans like FHA, VA, and USDA are typically easier to qualify for. Once you know what you’re looking for, finding the right lender gets much easier.

How do you shop around for a mortgage?

You’ll need to get prequalified by a lender before you hunt for a home. Rate shopping happens later, once you’ve found the property you want. It’s a four-step process:

1. Decide on the type of mortgage you need
2. Request quotes from multiple lenders
3. Compare your quotes carefully
4. Choose the deal that’s best for you

You’ll find all the information you need, together with links to more detailed explanations, above.

What is the lowest mortgage rate?

30-year mortgage rates just recently hit their lowest average to date, hitting 2.86% in September 2020.

But be aware that most of the rates advertised are for top-tier borrowers; those with stellar credit scores, big down payments, few other debts, and significant assets.

Your own ‘lowest mortgage rate’ will depend on your unique application. Check with a few different lenders to find out what that is.

What is the easiest mortgage to qualify for?

If you’re a veteran or a service member, the easiest mortgage to qualify for is probably a VA loan. If you’re buying somewhere rural or suburban, it might be a USDA loan. And the easiest mortgage to qualify for if you’re credit-challenged is the FHA loan. For those with smaller savings, it’s also relatively easy to qualify for a conventional loan with 3% down.

Can I get a mortgage with no money down?

Both VA loans and USDA loans allow you to get a mortgage with no money down. But every other type of mainstream mortgage requires at least 3.0% of the appraised value of the home.

If that’s a little more than you’re able to put down, look into down payment assistance (DPA) programs across the country that can help cover your down payment with grants or low-interest loans.

Is using a mortgage broker worth it?

Mortgage brokers are like retail outlets for multiple lenders. And they may find you the lowest rate you can get. Or they may not. So by all means consult a broker. But don’t rely on one. Get your own quotes in parallel and compare all your offers.

What’s the best mortgage for real estate investing?

Subsidized mortgages such as FHA and VA loans are designed to finance your primary residence. You could use one of these to buy multi-family real estate, such as a duplex or 4-unit condo complex, but you’d need to live in one of the units. Conventional loans do not have these kinds of requirements so they often work best for real estate investments.

What’s the best lender for a low down payment?

The down payment you’re required to make depends more on the type of loan you’re using than the lender.

Conventional loans often allow as low as 3% down (look for the Conventional 97, HomeReady, and Home Possible loans); FHA loans start at 3.5% down; and VA and USDA loans don’t require any down payment.

So check what loan types a lender offers if you want to know how large of a down payment you’ll need.

Will I have to pay private mortgage insurance?

Many home buyers have to pay for mortgage insurance, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

PMI is typically required on mortgages with less than 20% down, so if you want to use a low- or no-down-payment mortgage you’ll likely have to pay for it. (The one exception is a zero-down VA loan.)

PMI is a good thing in the sense that it can help you buy a home much sooner than would otherwise be possible. And, it’s possible to refinance into a loan without PMI later on.

Should I get a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable-rate mortgage?

Most homebuyers choose a fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) over an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM).

Fixed-rate mortgages have the same rate and payment over the life of the loan, so there are no surprise costs.

Adjustable-rate mortgages have a fixed rate for the first few years (usually 5-7), then your rate can move up or down with markets.

An ARM might be good if you plan to sell in a few years. Otherwise, it presents the danger of your mortgage rate and payment eventually increasing.

What are the drawbacks of online lenders?

Online mortgage lenders let you apply for a loan, upload documents, track your progess, and sometimes even close online. Many borrowers prefer this process because it can be more convenient than working with a loan officer in person or over the phone.

However, if you don’t like or aren’t comfortable managing your finances online, then one of these lenders likely isn’t right for you.

What’s the lowest credit score to get a mortgage loan?

Theoretically, it’s possible to get an FHA mortgage loan with a credit score as low as 500 (and a down payment of 10%). But it’s tough to find lenders that are this lenient in practice.

You’re much more likely to find FHA loans starting at a 580 credit score. The same goes for VA loans.

Most other mortgage types require a credit score of 620 or higher. That includes conventional loans, USDA loans, jumbo loans, and home equity loans.

How can I get a lower interest rate?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the broader economy, interest rates for home loans have reached record lows in 2020. To access the market’s lowest rates you’ll need a strong credit score (think 720+), a decent down payment, and a lender whose strengths match your specific home buying needs. 

Will a mortgage prequalification hurt my credit score?

Many lenders will prequalify you for a mortgage based on a stated credit score or a “soft pull” that does not hurt your credit.

However, you’ll need a preapproval — which is different from a prequalification — before you can start house hunting. Pre-approval requires more documentation and a hard credit check, which will likely ding your credit score.

Note, if you get all your mortgage quotes within a reasonable shopping period (usually 2-4 weeks), they’ll be counted as one instance so your score is not dinged multiple times.

If I’m self-employed will I pay higher interest rates?

No, being self-employed shouldn’t affect your mortgage rate, but it could make getting qualified more difficult. 

Lenders want to document how much money you make during the application process which is more difficult for self-employed applicants. 

Check with your lender before applying to find out whether your employment status will affect the underwriting process.

Will my lender sell my loan to another company?

Yes, most lenders sell mortgage loans to mortgage servicing companies. This process creates the liquidity lenders need to make additional loans.

But the loan terms you finalize with your lender will stay in place even when your loan servicer changes. So choosing the best mortgage lender still has long-lasting advantages.

If your loan is sold, you’ll be notified of where to send your payments several months before the change takes effect.

Recep: The 9 best mortgage lenders

  1. Fairway Independent Mortgage Co. — Top customer service, few complaints
  2. Guild Mortgage Co. — Top customer service, few complaints
  3. Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage — Top customer service, online application
  4. US Bank — Wide variety of loans, plenty of branches
  5. loanDepot — Online application, faster closing
  6. Guaranteed Rate — Generally low rates, online application
  7. USAA — Top customer satisfaction, VA loan specialists
  8. Veterans United — Top customer satisfaction, VA loan specialists
  9. Navy Federal Credit Union — Top customer satisfaction, VA loan specialists

Remember, mortgage rates change daily.

So once you find a lender you like, keep an eye out for low rates and be prepared to lock.

You can get a head start by requesting personalized rate estimates below.

Verify your new rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)


1J.D. Power satisfaction scores taken from the 2019 US Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Survey. Overall scores are based on ratings from 4,602 survey respondents. Areas scored include: application/approval process, communication, loan closing, and loan offerings

2Complaints per 1,000 customers based on the number of official complaints filed against a company, divided by that company’s total number of purchase originations in 2018. Complaints sourced from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) complaint database, and origination information sourced from the CFPB’s 2018 Mortgage Trends Report)

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Read this before you use your 401(k) to buy a house

Can I use my 401(k) to buy a house?

Using your 401(k) to make a down payment on a house is generally allowed.

There are even some benefits: 401(k) loans aren’t taxed, don’t affect your credit score, and have low interest rates.

However, borrowing from your 401(k) can seriously harm your retirement savings. That’s why experts only recommend it as a last resort.

Before you decide to use your 401(k) to buy a house, consider the no- and low-down-payment mortgages available today.

Many people can buy a house with as little as 3% or even 0% down — so there’s a good chance you don’t need to tap your retirement savings to make a down payment.  

Verify your mortgage eligibility (Sep 23rd, 2020)


In this article (Skip to…)


You likely can’t use your 401(k) to buy a house flat-out, since there are limits to the amount of money you can take out.

However, it’s possible to use your 401(k) to cover the down payment and closing costs on a home purchase.

We’ll say right off the bat that using your 401(k) to purchase a home typically isn’t the best method.

There are plenty of alternatives to your 401(k) to get cash for a down payment — ones that won’t have the same long-term ramifications as taking money from your retirement savings.

You can read up on other ways to get money for a down payment below.

However, maybe you’ve already looked at all your options and decided the money in your 401(k) is the best way to get the cash you need to purchase a home.

In that case, there are two ways you can access your 401(k) funds.

  • You can take a loan from your 401(k) account, which will need to be repaid with interest
  • Or you can simply withdraw the money, which comes with a 10% penalty and income tax

Here are the pros, cons, and rules for each method.

Verify your home buying eligibility (Sep 23rd, 2020)

How to use a 401(k) loan to buy a house

A 401(k) loan is the preferred method if you need to tap your retirement savings to buy a house. That’s because there’s a much lower cost associated with a 401(k) loan than a withdrawal.

A couple other perks include:

  • A 401(k) loan is usually not counted in your debt-to-income ratio, so it won’t hurt your chances of mortgage qualifying
  • 401(k) loans aren’t reported to credit bureaus, so applying for one won’t harm your credit score

Unlike a 401(k) withdrawal, a 401(k) loan is not subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty. And the money you receive will not be taxed as income.

The rules for using a 401(k) loan to buy a house are as follows:

  • Your employer must allow 401(k) loans as part of its retirement plan
  • The maximum loan amount is 50% of your vested 401(k) balance or $50,000, whichever is less
  • The loan must be paid back with interest (typically the prime rate plus 1-2%), on a schedule you agreed to by you and your 401(k) provider
  • Typically, you cannot make 401(k) contributions while you have an outstanding 401(k) loan

401(k) loans typically need to be paid back over 5 years.

However, when the money is used to purchase a home, you’re usually allowed to pay it back over a longer period of time. Rules vary by 401(k) company, so check with yours to learn more.

Drawbacks to 401(k) loans for home buying

The catch is, while you’re paying back the 401(k) loan, you usually can’t make contributions to your retirement account. And that means your employer won’t be matching contributions, either.

So all told, you could miss out on 5 years or more of retirement contributions — which will likely make a big dent is your savings later in life.

In addition, if you leave your current company or are laid off while you have an outstanding 401(k) loan, the repayment period shortens. In that case, you’ll have to repay the loan by that year’s tax filing date.

For example, if you take out a 401(k) loan on October 1, 2020, then leave your job on December 1, 2020, your entire loan would need to be repaid by April 15, 2021.

If your 401(k) loan is not repaid by the date it’s due, the remaining balance is treated as a 401(k) withdrawal. So it will likely be taxed as income and subject to a 10% penalty.

Using a 401(k) withdrawal to buy a house

401(k) withdrawals are generally not recommended as a means to buy a house, because they’re subject to steep fees and penalties that don’t apply to 401(k) loans.

If you take a 401(k) withdrawal before age 59 ½, you’ll have to pay:

  • A 10% “early withdrawal” penalty on the funds removed
  • Income tax on the funds removed

For example, say you withdraw $20,000 from your 401(k) to cover your down payment and closing costs.

  • You’ll be charged a $2,000 early withdrawal penalty
  • And you’ll have to pay income tax on the $20K, which likely comes out to around $4,000-$6,000

That’s around $8,000 gone from your retirement savings, on top of the initial withdrawal.

The standard rules for 401(k) withdrawals are as follows:

  • Most 401(k) plans only allow withdrawals in cases of financial “hardship”
  • However, taking a 401(k) withdrawal to buy a house is usually acceptable
  • You can only withdraw as much money as is necessary to cover your immediate need
  • The money does not have to be repaid

Coronavirus update:

Under the CARES Act, you might be able to withdraw as much as $100,000 from your 401(k) with no 10% penalty. In this case, you can opt to pay income tax on the money in the same year it’s withdrawn, or over the next three years. Current CARES Act rules allow non-penalized 401(k) withdrawals until the end of 2020. Rules vary by employer and are subject to change.


Should you use your 401(k) as a first time home buyer?

Home prices just keep rising — which means saving the required down payment to buy your first house can be really tough.

But as a first time home buyer, taking money from your 401(k) to buy a home is likely not the best option.

First time home buyers are often at a key age for making retirement contributions. The more money you put in when you’re young, the longer it has to accrue interest.

By taking money out of your 401(k) to buy your first home, you can seriously reduce the amount in your savings when you’re ready to retire.

For example:

  • Say you have $30,000 in your 401(k) at age 30
  • After 25 years at 7% interest, that $20K will have grown to $162,800
  • But you take out $10,000 to make a down payment on your first home
  • Now, your 401(k) has $20,000 in it at age 30
  • After 25 years at 7% interest, it will have grown to $108,500
  • So $10,000 withdrawn now means $54,000 less in your 401(k) at retirement

This isn’t to say a 401(k) loan or withdrawal is always the worst option.

But before you turn to your retirement savings, consider all the other routes available for first-timers (or repeat buyers) to purchase a home.

Verify your home buying eligibility (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Alternatives to using your 401(k) to buy a house

Many homebuyers assume they need a 20% down payment, which can make it seem nearly impossible to save enough cash to buy a house.

But home buyers no longer need 20% down.

In fact, there’s a long list of low- and no-down payment home loans that can lower the barrier to homeownership.

Some of the most popular low-down payment mortgages are:

  • FHA loans allow as little as 3.5% down and only require a 580 credit score
  • Conventional 97 loans start at 3% down and require a 620+ credit score
  • VA loans are available to veterans and service members with 0% down
  • USDA loans can be used in certain rural areas with 0% down
  • HomeReady and Home Possible loans only require 3% down and have flexible requirements for first time home buyers who have little cash

But what if you don’t have a 3% down payment? After all, 3% of $300,000 is $9,000 — that’s still a lot of money.

If you need help making your down payment, there are other places to turn before your 401(k). For example:  

  • Look for down payment assistance programs in your area. DPA programs are available in every state. They offer grants and low-interest loans to help home buyers cover their down payment and closing costs. If you need help buying a house, DPA should be the first place you turn
  • Look for mortgage lenders that offer down payment or closing cost help. Some lenders have special programs that offer credits to cover part of your down payment and/or closing costs. Find a few examples in our list of the best lenders for first time home buyers
  • Ask a relative or family friend for help. Some home loans allow you to cover your entire down payment and closing costs using gifted money, although this must be properly documented

Most of these programs are specifically designed for first-time, lower-income, or lower-credit home buyers.

So if you’re having trouble saving for a down payment for any of these reasons, there’s a good chance you could qualify.  

Do you qualify for a mortgage without 401(k) funds?

With such a wide range of mortgage options and down payment assistance on the market, most people simply don’t need to tap their 401(k) in order to purchase a home.

On top of that, today’s low mortgage rates increase your home buying power by reducing monthly payments. It’s easier to afford a home than ever before.

Before taking money out of retirement, find out whether you qualify for a mortgage based on your current savings. You might be surprised.

Verify your new rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, September 23, 2020

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates inched lower yesterday, underscoring the disconnection between those and other markets. And conventional loans today start at 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.875% 2.875% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.625% 2.625% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.749% -0.04%
30 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.226% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.245% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.426% Unchanged
Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

If you feel as if mortgage rates are stuck in Groundhog Day, you’d have a point. Nearly all movements have been tiny recently. And the only sharp ones have affected just a small minority of borrowers. The only variation is whether they go up or down by a tiny amount.

In these circumstances, complacency is understandable — but possibly unwise. Markets rarely face the level of uncertainty that confronts them now. And a single piece of news could create real volatility. Right now, that’s most likely to be pandemic-related.

If the news is good (the emergence of an effective COVID-19 vaccine, say), mortgage rates could soar over just a day or two. But if it’s bad (a clear second wave hitting the US, perhaps, as is now happening in much of Europe), those rates could plummet.

All this is a warning against assuming that the mortgage rate movements we’ve seen over the recent weeks constitute some kind of new normal.

On balance, I still think — thanks to the Federal Reserve — that we’re more likely to see rates gradually fall than rise. But that prediction comes with risks from the unknowable. And it’s almost certain that we’ll see periods (brief ones, I hope) of higher rates in coming weeks and months.

That’s why my personal recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Compare top refinance lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys edged higher to 0.68% from 0.66%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mixed. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices held steady at $39.96 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices dipped to $1,889 from $1,919 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower.
  •  CNN Business Fear & Greed index inched down to 55 from 56 out of a possible 100 points. (Good for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or a matter of cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Before the pandemic and the Fed’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today they’re looking neutral for mortgage rates. Unless things change, markets suggest a quiet day for these rates. But the Fed has a shopping list.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (at least $1 trillion; some say nearly $2 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. At times of high demand, lenders can push up rates as a way of managing their workflow. Neither markets nor the Fed can help when that happens

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months. But check out what 10 experts think could happen between now and the end of this year:

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we’ve gotten close to others since. Still, a new one remains a real possibility.

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

And here are their current rates forecasts for the last two quarters of 2020 (Q3/20 and Q4/20) and the first two of 2021 (Q1/21 and Q2/21).

Note that Fannie’s (published Sept. 15) and the MBA’s (out Sept. 21) are updated monthly. However, Freddie’s are published quarterly, with the last released in June and the next due any day. So Freddie’s currently feel stale. The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q3/20 Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21
Fannie Mae 3.0% 2.8% 2.8% 2.7%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.3% 3.2% 3.2%
MBA 3.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%

So expectations vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

Everyone — from federal regulators to personal finance gurus — agrees that shopping around for your new mortgage or refinance is important. You could save thousands over just a few years by getting quotes from multiple lenders. And more, if you keep your mortgage for a long time or have a large loan.

But you’ve rarely had more to gain by shopping around than you do now. The mortgage market is currently very messy. And some lenders are offering appreciably lower rates than others. Worse, some are making it harder to get any mortgage at all if you want a cash-out refinance, a loan for an investment property, a jumbo loan or if your credit score is damaged.

So start shopping around soon for your new mortgage or refinance. You’re most likely to find a great deal on the type of loan you want if you spread your net widely.

Verify your new rate (Sep 23rd, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, September 22, 2020

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates held steady yesterday amid difficult markets. And conventional loans today start at 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 22nd, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.875% 2.875% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.625% 2.625% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3.125% 2.792% -0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.226% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.245% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.426% Unchanged
Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 22nd, 2020)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Choosing to lock your rate or to carry on floating it always comes with risk. The possibility of some political or economic (or now medical) event unexpectedly sending rates soaring or tumbling never goes away.

Still, looking back over the last month, rates have remained remarkably even. So, with the exception of large rises and falls that affected only a small minority of borrowers, we’ve seen just small ups and downs on the vast majority of days.

Luckily, the downs have outnumbered the ups over recent months, largely thanks to the Federal Reserve, which is actively working to keep mortgage rates low. And, on balance, I think it more likely that the gentle downward trend will continue rather than reverse.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be (with luck, brief) periods when rates are higher. Indeed, they’re almost inevitable.

And that’s why my personal recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Compare top refinance lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys held steady at 0.66%. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mostly modestly higher. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices edged up to $39.96 from $39.95. (Neutral for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices held steady at $1,919 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower.
  •  CNN Business Fear & Greed index rose to 56 from 54 out of a possible 100 points. (Bad for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or a matter of cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Once upon a time, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player in the mortgage market and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today they’re looking a little worse for mortgage rates. Investors are still worried about a double whammy: the looming possibility of a second wave in the pandemic and the rapidly decreasing chances of DC politicians enacting new stimulus measures. But they’re also keen to stem recent losses on stock markets.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 22nd, 2020)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (at least $1 trillion; some say nearly $2 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. At times of high demand, lenders can push up rates as a way of managing their workflow. Neither markets nor the Fed can help when that happens

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months. But check out what 10 experts think could happen between now and the end of this year:

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we’ve gotten close to others since. Still, a new one remains a real possibility.

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

And here are their current rates forecasts for the last two quarters of 2020 (Q3/20 and Q4/20) and the first two of 2021 (Q1/21 and Q2/21).

Note that Fannie’s (published last Tuesday) and the MBA’s (out yesterday) are updated monthly. However, Freddie’s are published quarterly, with the last released in June and the next due any day. So Freddie’s currently feel stale. The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q3/20 Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21
Fannie Mae 3.0% 2.8% 2.8% 2.7%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.3% 3.2% 3.2%
MBA 3.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%

So expectations vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

Everyone — from federal regulators to personal finance gurus — agrees that shopping around for your new mortgage or refinance is important. You could save thousands over just a few years by getting quotes from multiple lenders. And more, if you keep your mortgage for a long time or have a large loan.

But you’ve rarely had more to gain by shopping around than you do now. The mortgage market is currently very messy. And some lenders are offering appreciably lower rates than others. Worse, some are making it harder to get any mortgage at all if you want a cash-out refinance, a loan for an investment property, a jumbo loan or if your credit score is damaged.

So start shopping around soon for your new mortgage or refinance. You’re most likely to find a great deal on the type of loan you want if you spread your net widely.

Verify your new rate (Sep 22nd, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

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Mortgage brokers: What they do and how to find one

What is a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker is someone who shops for a home loan on your behalf.

Their job is to learn all about your circumstances — down payment, credit, income, and so on — then find the best mortgage loan for you.

Some people choose to work with a mortgage broker because it can be easier than trying to find a loan by yourself.

But you’re also free to shop around on your own if you prefer.

The ability to request rates and apply online makes shopping for a home loan without a broker easier than ever.

Start here to compare home loans (Sep 22nd, 2020)


In this article (Skip to…)


What a mortgage broker does

Choosing the right mortgage is almost as important as choosing the right house, since you’ll likely be paying off the loan for years to come.

You want to find the best rates, lowest fees, most reputable lender, and the loan product that best suits your needs — it’s no small task.

A mortgage broker can take on that heavy lifting by identifying loans that are suited to your circumstances and submitting applications for you.

They may even have the inside scoop on which lenders have the best reviews and can recommend products that align with your finances and goals.

Again, it’s possible to do all of this on your own. But if you’re not comfortable learning about mortgages and making the choice on your own, a broker can be very helpful.

Mortgage broker vs. bank

Mortgage brokers work with multiple banks and lenders, so they can help you find the right loan type as well as the best mortgage rate.

A bank, on the other hand, will only recommend loan products from its own portfolio. So a bank can likely help you find the right type of loan, but it won’t help you compare rates from other lenders to see if you’re getting the best deal.

Importantly, mortgage brokers provide access to a broad range of options, rather than limiting you to the products offered by just a handful of lenders.

This may help you secure a better loan and rate than you would have if you had simply looked for lenders on your own.

Should you work with a mortgage broker?

If you find a mortgage broker you trust, they can be a huge asset in the homebuying process.

They can likely source more product options than you’d find on your own, and you may have more luck negotiating with them than directly with a lender.

You might consider working with a mortgage broker if:

  • You’re slammed with work and want someone else to do all the comparisons for you
  • You feel overwhelmed by comparing lenders and want an expert opinion
  • You have a spotty credit history or low credit score and need someone to help you find a lender who is willing to work with you

A broker can also help you pinpoint lenders who offer the specific types of loans you need, such as a VA loan, low down payment mortgage, or a jumbo loan.

However, it can take longer to close a loan through a broker than a lender. A lender can “push your loan through” if you’re on a tight closing timeline. Brokers have less ability to rush processing. After all, they are not on staff at the lending company, but an independent agent.

They also have limited control over what the lender does with your loan, which could be a problem if there is a hold-up or the loan is denied.

Compare mortgage lenders. Start here (Sep 22nd, 2020)

What to look for in a mortgage broker

It’s important to find a mortgage broker you’ll be comfortable working with throughout the home loan process.

Asking the following questions as you evaluate different brokers can help you find one who fits your needs:

Who are the typical clients?

When looking for a mortgage broker, it’s important to think about your goals. That way you can choose a broker who has experience working with similar buyers and knows how best to help you.

For example, if you’re worried about bad credit being an obstacle to homeownership, you’ll likely feel more comfortable with someone who has a history of helping folks like you land a mortgage loan.

Or, if you want to buy a rural fixer-upper, you’re probably going to look for someone who is well-versed in FHA- and USDA-backed mortgages.

On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a luxury home, you could benefit from having a broker who is familiar with jumbo mortgages.

Knowing what type of home you want and understanding your financial profile will help you narrow down which brokers are best for you.

Are they licensed?

You can verify that a broker is licensed through the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) website.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) notes that you can also contact your state regulator to find out whether the broker has ever been subject to any kind of disciplinary action.

What is it like to work with them?

Applying for a mortgage is an emotional process. There’s a lot riding on your decision about which lender to work with, and you need to ensure you understand the terms of the loan.

You want to work with a broker you’re comfortable with, one you know will walk you through these big decisions. And a lot of that trust and confidence comes down to their working style.

Think about your expectations for how you’ll communicate with a broker.

  • Do you want them to be in touch regularly, checking in with you throughout the process?
  • Do you expect them to be available after-hours to answer questions?
  • Do you prefer texts or phone calls?
  • How big is their typical workload; will you be a top priority?

You might find a great broker but opt not to work with them if you’re not going to get the personalized support or type of customer service you need to put your mind at ease.

What is their availability?

If you’re in a hurry to buy a home, you want to know that your mortgage broker is ready to move as fast as you are.

Ask how many clients they typically work with at one time and when they will be available to begin looking for loans for you.

Someone who has their hands full is not going to be able to give you the attention you need if you want to buy right away.

But if you’re not on a tight timeline, you can focus more on finding someone who suits your customer service and personality expectations and start the homebuying process in earnest when they have availability.

>> Related: How to shop for a mortgage in one day

How to find a good mortgage broker

You have a few options for finding a mortgage broker:

Websites and online reviews

You can search for a broker through sites like FindAMortgageBroker.com or search for brokerages in your area.

Check reviews on Google, Yelp and other review platforms to source a range of people’s experiences.

Be sure to look for comments about:

  • Closing times
  • Loan success
  • Customer service
  • Responsiveness

This will help give you an idea of how communicative and helpful the broker is.

Recommendations from friends and family

Ask your loved ones whether they’ve used a mortgage broker and if they would recommend them.

People you’re close to will give you candid feedback about whether they liked a particular broker and the overall impression they had from working with them.

They may also give details about professionalism or personality that you won’t find in other reviews but which might heavily influence your decision.

One question you definitely want to ask is whether they felt the broker put their needs first.

If a friend or family member felt that their broker pushed a certain lender or product even when the client felt reluctant, treat that as a red flag.

You’re the one taking out a mortgage, and you should feel confident that your broker is helping finding the best product for you, rather than working in their own interest.

Referrals from a real estate agent

Your real estate agent can be a great resource for referring mortgage brokers. The agent likely knows the type of home you’re looking for and can recommend brokers who work with buyers similar to you.

They may even have long-standing relationships with brokers and be able to make trusted recommendations based on years of professional interactions.

Agents have a vested interest in recommending a top-notch broker: if the broker can’t close the loan on time, the sale might not go through and the agent doesn’t get their commission.

The bottom line

The decision really comes down to your homebuying timeline and whether you think you can get a better rate or loan through a broker.

If you’ve worked with certain lenders before and feel confident with them, or you’ve already sourced solid recommendations from friends and family, going directly to lenders may be your best bet.

But if you want a broker’s expertise, they could be a great addition to your homebuying team.

Verify your new rate (Sep 22nd, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, September 21, 2020

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates edged higher last Friday. So they ended the week just a little higher than they started it. But probably not by enough to make much material difference to you. And conventional loans today start at 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 21st, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.875% 2.875% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.625% 2.625% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3.125% 2.806% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.226% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.245% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.426% Unchanged
Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 21st, 2020)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Behind the scenes, mortgage lenders are recruiting and training loan officers and support staff as quickly as they can. They know they could be doing a lot more business if only they weren’t already working at full capacity.

Right now, all they can do to dampen demand is keep mortgage rates a little higher than is strictly necessary. And they can’t risk another surge in that demand by letting them go sharply lower.

Still, in the longer term, things are looking rosy for borrowers. The Federal Reserve last week renewed its promise to keep buying mortgage bonds in bulk for the foreseeable future. And its actions are the main reason rates are as low as they are.

But it’s probably unrealistic to expect sharply lower rates until the whole supply-and-demand issue is fixed. We may well get back to August’s all-time low — and perhaps slightly lower — sometime in coming weeks. But there’s a constant risk of wider markets putting a brake on that, and pushing them modestly higher than they are now.

In my personal view, there’s more likely to be downward movement than upward over the coming weeks. But it’s almost inevitable that there will be some periods when rates move higher. And that’s why my personal recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

Compare top refinance lenders

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time last Friday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys nudged down to 0.66% from 0.68%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were sharply lower. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices fell to $39.95 from $41.16. (Good for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices dropped to $1,919 an ounce from $1,956. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower.
  •  CNN Business Fear & Greed index tumbled to 54 from 59 out of a possible 100 points. (Good for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or a matter of cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Once upon a time, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player in the mortgage market and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today they’re looking better for mortgage rates. Investors are eyeing with alarm the second COVID-19 wave that’s crashing over Western Europe. Will it come here next?

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 21st, 2020)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (at least $1 trillion; some say nearly $2 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. At times of high demand, lenders can push up rates as a way of managing their workflow. Neither markets nor the Fed can help when that happens

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months. But check out what 10 experts think could happen between now and the end of this year:

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we’ve gotten close to others since. Still, a new one remains a real possibility.

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

And here are their current rates forecasts for the last two quarters of 2020 (Q3/20 and Q4/20) and the first two of 2021 (Q1/21 and Q2/21).

Note that Fannie’s (published last Tuesday) and the MBA’s are updated monthly while Freddie’s are published quarterly So Freddie’s sometimes feel stale. The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q3/20 Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21
Fannie Mae 3.0% 2.8% 2.8% 2.7%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.3% 3.2% 3.2%
MBA 3.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.1%

So expectations vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

Everyone — from federal regulators to personal finance gurus — agrees that shopping around for your new mortgage or refinance is important. You could save thousands over just a few years by getting quotes from multiple lenders. And more, if you keep your mortgage for a long time or have a large loan.

But you’ve rarely had more to gain by shopping around than you do now. The mortgage market is currently very messy. And some lenders are offering appreciably lower rates than others. Worse, some are making it harder to get any mortgage at all if you want a cash-out refinance, a loan for an investment property, a jumbo loan or if your credit score is damaged.

So start shopping around soon for your new mortgage or refinance. You’re most likely to find a great deal on the type of loan you want if you spread your net widely.

Verify your new rate (Sep 21st, 2020)

Compare top refinance lenders

Mortgage rate methodology

The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

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2.5 million homeowners could save $500/month by refinancing: report

Record low mortgage rates equal big refinance savings

Mortgage rates have hit record lows nine times this year, and that spells big savings opportunities for homebuyers and refinancers.

In fact, refinance rates are low enough that data firm Black Knight estimates 2.5 million people could save $500 or more per month by refinancing. 

With FHFA’s ‘Adverse Market Refinance Fee’ rapidly approaching, it’s prime time to lock in a rate if you’ve been considering a refinance this year.

There’s a chance today’s rates are as low as they’re going to get in 2020.

Verify your refinance eligibility (Sep 21st, 2020)

19 million homeowners are in the money to refinance

The number of homeowners refinancing is already through the roof.

Black Knight found that refinance loan originations hit a 17-year high in July, an increase of 200% over the same time last year.

This puts nearly 20 million U.S. homeowners “in the money” to refinance — meaning they’d see significant savings.

And the opportunities for eligible refinance borrowers keep getting better. 

‘High-quality’ refi candidates could save $299 per month

According to Black Knight’s research, there are 19.3 million “high-quality” refinance candidates in the U.S.

These are homeowners with at least 20% equity in their homes and a credit score of 720+, who could reduce their interest rates by at least 0.75% by refinancing at today’s rates.

Black Knight estimates that the average monthly savings among high-quality borrowers is $299. 

Looking at all 30-year mortgage-holders (not just “high-quality” candidates), the same report found that there are 32 million homeowners paying interest rates 0.75% above average.

Many among this group could also be great refinance candidates.

Verify your refinance eligibility (Sep 21st, 2020)

How much could you save by refinancing?

If you think you may be able to refinance but aren’t sure how much you’ll save, try running the numbers on a refinance calculator.

You can input your current interest rate and the average rate today to receive an estimate of what your new monthly payment will look like. 

But know that the actual amount you can save will vary based on your circumstances.

Lenders evaluate refinance applications based on:

  • How much equity you have in the home
  • Your credit score and history
  • Your current income and employment status
  • Your existing debts

The better those numbers are, the lower your interest rate is likely to be.

If you haven’t built up much equity or can’t secure a significantly lower rate, then it may not be worth refinancing. 

And if you’re not offered the same ‘ultra-low’ rates you see advertised, remember to keep historical context in mind.

At this time two years ago, the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.65%.

So, even getting down to a 3.25% rate (as opposed to, say, 2.75%) could save you several hundred dollars a month.

Check your refinance rates. Start here (Sep 21st, 2020)

Refinance costs could increase soon 

Mortgage and refinance rates are currently near their lowest levels in history. But refinance rates are almost guaranteed to rise in the near future.

The reason? FHFA’s new Adverse Market Refinance Fee.

This new fee will be applied to most conventional refinances. (Loans under $125,000 will not incur the fee.) 

It’s calculated at 0.5%, or $500 per $100,000 borrowed. However, most borrowers won’t pay that amount upfront.

Instead, their fees will likely be covered with a 0.125% to 0.25% higher rate.

Although lenders won’t be obligated to pay the fee until December, they’re likely to start rolling the cost into their loan prices beginning in October.

So if you’re ready to refinance now, you may want to act quickly.

Verify your refinance eligibility (Sep 21st, 2020)

How to get the best refinance deal right now 

To take advantage of low interest rates before the Adverse Market Refinance Fee kicks in, compare different lenders’ terms to see who is offering the best deal.

Once you’ve decided which company you want to work with, move quickly to submit your application and get started on the loan. 

You’ll also need to determine which type of refinance loan works best for you — for instance, whether you want a straightforward refinance to lower your monthly payments or you want a cash-out refinance to have some liquid cash available for unforeseen expenses. 

Depending on the type of mortgage you have, you may be eligible for a “streamline” refinance option:

  • The FHA streamline refinance is considered a “low doc” program because you won’t have to submit income verification or schedule an appraisal to qualify for the loan. There’s also no credit check, so loan processing can be completed much faster than with a traditional refinance
  • The VA’s interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL) is a similar program. It does not require income or employment verification, and you may be approved without an appraisal. The IRRRL is available even to borrowers with little or no equity in their homes, creating an opportunity to save even if you haven’t been able to pay down a large portion of your mortgage yet

If you want to take advantage of the current low refinance rates but aren’t sure what your options are, contact your lender.

They can explain their different loan programs and help you understand what you might qualify for. 

And if you aren’t quite ready to refinance, perhaps because you’re working on improving your credit score or are trying to build more equity, don’t rush into the decision.

Mortgage rates will likely stay low for several years because of pandemic-driven economic uncertainty, so you may still be able to secure a lower rate when refinancing is right for you. 

Verify your new rate (Sep 21st, 2020)

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US Bank Mortgage Review for 2020

Overview

With a history going back more than 150 years, Minnesota-based US Bank is a major player in financial services.

Indeed, it claims to be the fifth-largest bank in the country. And when it comes to mortgages, US Bank was the tenth biggest lender by volume in 2019.
However, the fact that lots of borrowers choose US Bank doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best mortgage company for you. That choice comes down to who can offer you the lowest rate and best terms on your home loan.
Read up on the pros and cons and check rates to see whether US Bank is the right lender for your mortgage.


US Bank mortgage rates

Below, you can see how US Bank mortgage rates compare to other top lenders. Its rates seem a bit higher on average.

Note, averages shown in this table are from 2019, the latest data available.

Rates have fallen significantly since then, so these do not reflect current mortgage and refinance rates. It’s simply a tool to compare lenders side by side.

Average 30-year mortgage rates at major lenders

 
US Bank
Wells Fargo 
Quicken Loans
Chase
Average 30-Year Interest Rate, 2019
4.66% 4.22% 4.16% 4.22%
Monthly P&I Payment*
$1,032 $980 $973 $980
Median Loan Costs, 2019
$3,702 $3,484 $5,075 $3,440
Median Origination Charge, 2019
$1,175 $1,199 $2,085 $1,279

Average rate and fee data were sourced from public rate and fee records required by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA).

*Monthly principal and interest payment based on a $250,000 home price, with 20% down, at each company’s average 30-year interest rate for 2019. Your own rate and monthly payment will vary.

Verify your new rate (Sep 18th, 2020)

US Bank mortgage review for 2020

US Bank offers a wide range of mortgages and plenty of options for how you apply.

A couple of things worth noting about US Bank’s mortgage program:

  • It offers construction loans for people that want to build their homes instead of buying one. Not all lenders do
  • It will partner with down payment assistance programs to help approve first time buyer who’ve had a hard time saving a big down payment
  • It offers a no-closing-cost refinance called the “Smart Refinance” with loan terms up to 20 years

The biggest drawback we saw with US Bank is that its mortgage rates appear to be higher than other major lenders on average.

However, rates vary widely from one borrower to the next. If US Bank likes the look of your credit score, down payment, and application, it may well offer you the lowest rate of any lender you apply to.

You never know who can offer you the lowest rate until you’ve checked with a few lenders. That’s why it’s so important to compare rates before you buy.

Working with US Bank mortgage

US Bank revamped its website recently — and it’s a huge improvement over its old one.

The online portal lets you begin a home loan application on your laptop or mobile device, save it part way through, and pick back up on any device when you have a moment. You can also upload documents securely.

The site also provides plenty of information about different loan choices, including current average mortgage rates.

Those who prefer working with a human can apply at a local branch across the desk from a specialist advisor. Or you can talk to an advisor through US Bank’s call center.

If you opt to make a face-to-face application, you need to be sure you have a local branch. US Bank’s network is smaller than many of its competitors.

That said, US Bank has a leg up in the Midwest, where its physical presence is stronger than other major lenders like Chase and PNC.

US Bank customer service reviews

US Bank seems to have improved its customer service since we first published this review.

Company
Mortgage Originations 2019
CFPB Complaints 2019
Complaints Per 1,000 Mortgages
2019 JD Power Rating
US Bank
380,700  85 0.22 846/1,000
Wells Fargo
1,026,800 342 0.33 837/1,000
Quicken Loans
774,900 187 0.24 880/1,000
Chase
527,600 188 0.36 850/1,000

US Bank’s customer review score improved from 785/1,000 in J.D. Power’s 2018 mortgage customer survey, to 856/1,000 in 2019. That bumped it from “below average” to slightly above average.

In addition, US Bank gets fewer than one complaint per 1,000 mortgage customers registered with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And it earns an A+ with the Better Business Bureau.

Mortgage loan products at US Bank

US Bank’s website provides plenty of information about the mortgages it offers. These include:

  • Fixed-rate mortgages — Besides the usual 30-year term, you can opt to borrow for 10, 15 or 20 years, letting you become mortgage-free earlier
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages — You can choose to fix your rate for an initial period of three, five or 10 years, after which your rate floats with the market
  • FHA loans — You can make a down payment as low as 3.5 percent and have less-than-pristine credit with these loans, which are backed by the Federal Housing Administration
  • VA loans — Qualifying veterans and service members can borrow with zero down payment and no continuing mortgage insurance payments
  • USDA loans — These loans are meant for low- to moderate-income people in qualified rural areas. Buyers can qualify for a USDA loan with 0% down payment
  • Jumbo loans — When you want to borrow more than the cap for conventional loans, which is $510,400 in most areas

The bank also advertises investment property loans and new construction and lot loans for those that plan to rent out their property or build an entirely new one.

US Bank construction loans

US Bank offers construction loans for those who want to build their new home instead of buying it. These are different from mortgage loans. 

A US Bank construction loan is a “short-term, interim loan” that pays the builder in installments as the house is being built.

During that time, the borrower pays only interest on the loan (also known as an “interest-only payment”). 

Once construction is finished, the borrower has to either pay off the loan in cash or use a traditional mortgage to cover the cost of the home. 

US Bank offers a few types of construction loans to fit different budgeting needs. However, there’s little information about these available. US Bank prefers you speak directly with one of its loan officers about construction loan options.  

In addition, interest rates on construction loans are higher than interest rates on mortgages, because there’s no property for the loan to be secured against.

US Bank Smart Refinance

The US Bank Smart Refinance is a type of no-closing-cost refinance. It’s available with fixed rates and a loan term up to 20 years.

You can apply for the US Bank Smart Refinance refinance online, over the phone, or at a US Bank branch.

Remember, “no-closing-cost” does not mean there are no costs associated with your refinance. It either means the fees and closing costs are rolled into the loan amount or the interest rate is increased to pay for costs. Either way, you pay them over time instead of upfront.

Where can you get a mortgage with US Bank?

NMLS license number: 402761 

US Bank is licensed to lend in all 50 states.

If you like what you’ve read in this US Bank mortgage review, you’ll want to know how to move forward. So here are your options.

  • Apply digitally through US Bank’s fully-functional online portal, available on desktop and mobile
  • Call a US Bank loan officer and apply over the phone
  • Meet with a loan officer in person at one of US Bank’s 2,000+ branch locations

Note, US Bank does not have physical branches in every state.

At the time of publishing this review, it has just under 3,000 branches in 26 states, primarily concentrated in the West and Midwest.

US Bank is also undergoing branch closures in 2020. So you’ll need to double-check whether there are still locations near you. You can use the branch locator tool below to do that.

Use the US Bank branch locator to find a branch near you

Is US Bank the best mortgage lender for you?

If you already have a relationship with US Bank via checking or savings accounts, or even have a prior relationship with a US bank loan officer, this bank could be a great option for your mortgage.

However, US Bank mortgage rates appear to be on the higher end, at least on average. So make sure you compare personalized rates from a few other lenders before choosing.

That’s the best way to find a low rate and big savings on your home loan.

Verify your new rate (Sep 18th, 2020)

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