Daily mortgage rates for March 18, 2024: Rates inch higher on popular terms

The new week opens with increases on mortgage rates across popular terms. The current average rate for a 30-year mortgage is 6.88% for purchase and 6.87% for refinance — up 2 basis points over the weekend, though 7 basis points lower than this time last Monday. Rates on a 15-year mortgage stand at an average 6.41% for purchase and 6.42% for refinance. The average purchase rate on a 30-year fixed jumbo mortgage is 6.98%.

Purchase rates for Monday, March 18, 2024

30-year fixed rate — 6.88%

20-year fixed rate — 6.71%

15-year fixed rate — 6.41%

10-year fixed rate — 6.26%

5/1 adjustable rate mortgage — 6.38%

30-year fixed FHA rate — 6.75%

30-year fixed VA rate — 6.90%

30-year fixed jumbo rate — 6.98%

Refinance rates for Monday, March 18, 2024

30-year fixed rate — 6.87%

20-year fixed rate — 6.73%

15-year fixed rate — 6.42%

10-year fixed rate — 6.30%

5/1 adjustable rate mortgage — 6.25%

30-year fixed FHA rate — 6.76%

30-year fixed VA rate — 7.52%

30-year fixed jumbo rate — 6.91%

Current mortgage rates for March 18, 2024

While the Fed rate does not determine mortgage rates, it sets benchmarks that indirectly affect rates on financial products like mortgages, personal loans and deposit accounts. The Fed has a firm goal of a 2% inflation rate, and with favorable economic reports on the job market, it’s unlikely the reserve will cut rates until that goal is within reality’s reach.

Mortgage rates in the news

Last week closed with news the National Association of Realtors had agreed to a settlement that, if approved by a federal judge, would bring an end to longstanding real estate broker commissions of up to 6% of a home’s purchase price. While the settlement isn’t expected to affect mortgage rates, it paves the way for consumers to negotiate what they pay for an agent’s services, potentially saving them money in the long run.

The Federal Reserve — the U.S.’s central bank — is due to meet for the second time in 2024 this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday. The Fed held rates steady at 5.25% to 5.5% at its meeting in late January. It marked the fourth time the Fed held rates after 11 consecutive increases from March 2022 to July 2023. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments on March 6, 2023, to House lawmakers signaled hesitance to cut rates, with a decision dependent on “see[ing] a little more data” that inflation will return to the Fed’s 2% target. 

Yet, in the wake of Consumer Price Index data released last Tuesday showing a month-over-month increase in consumer prices — a widely used indicator for inflation — economists aren’t expecting a cut to the target interest rate this week, with market watchers telling Yahoo Finance on Tuesday that a cut is “more likely” to come this summer.

The Fed’s cut to target rates later in the year could push average mortgage rates lower — a boon for spring homebuyers.

Frequently asked questions about mortgage rates

What is a mortgage rate? The rate of interest paid by the borrower to a lender for the length of a loan term. There are two types of rates: fixed and variable. Fixed rates remain the same over the life of the loan, while variable rates fluctuate based on market conditions. 

What are mortgage lenders? Lenders are financial institutions that loan money to homebuyers. A lender is different from a loan servicer, which typically handles the operational tasks of your loan, like processing payments, talking directly with borrowers and sending monthly statements.  

What does it mean to refinance a mortgage? It’s a process of trading in your current mortgage to another lender for lower rates and better terms than your current loan. With a refinance, the new lender pays off your old mortgage and you then pay your monthly statements from the new lender.  

What factors influence mortgage rates? Mortgage rates are determined by many factors that include inflation rates, economic conditions, housing market trends and the Federal Reserve’s target interest rate. Lenders also consider your personal credit score, the amount available for your down payment, the property you’re interested in and other terms of the loan you’re requesting, like 30-year or 15-year offers.

How do I get the best mortgage rate? Knowing your credit score can help you shop around for lenders you’re likely to get approval through, as well as understand the type of mortgage for your lifestyle and income. The best mortgage rates typically go to borrowers with good to excellent credit — typically a FICO credit score of at least 670 — though even with fair credit, you may be able to find a mortgage offering decent rates. Many lenders offer lower rates in exchange for “mortgage points” — upfront fees you pay to your lender. 

Fixed rate vs. adjustable rate — what’s the difference? Fixed-rate mortgages offer a consistent interest rate over the life of your loan, whereas adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) typically start with a lower fixed rate for an agreed-on time and then adjust to a variable rate based on market conditions for the remainder of your term. With an ARM, you could end up paying more or less after your initial rate. Choosing between these two rates depends on your financial goals and tolerance for risk.

When is the best time to lock in a mortgage rate? Mortgage rates can fluctuate daily, so it’s best to lock in a rate when you’re comfortable with the offered rate and conditions of the loan. 

Can I negotiate my mortgage rate? It’s not likely — lenders consider the market conditions and other financial factors when determining rates. You can, however, ask about how you can reduce costs in other ways when comparing mortgage lenders.

Current refinance mortgage rates for March 2024

Sources

Bankrate Mortgage Industry Insights

National Association of Realtors

Bankrate’s mortgage rate forecast for February 2024

Primary Mortgage Market Survey® data provided by Freddie Mac

Zillow Mortgage Rate data

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