The averages are compiled by Freddie Mac and reported by the Fed every Thursday. The data represents the weighted average conforming loans issued between Monday and Wednesday that week based on survey submissions from lenders nationwide. The latest data is for February 22nd, 2024:
Mortgage rates in the United States have a significant impact on the housing market and the economy. Understanding these rates, as well as the various types of mortgages available, is crucial for anyone looking to buy a home or refinance an existing mortgage. Below we cover key concepts such as conforming loans, 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and jumbo mortgages.
30-year and 15-year fixed mortgages are loans collateralized by homes that charge a fixed interest rate for their entire term (30 years or 15 years). They are structured so that borrowers pay the same monthly installment throughout the term of the mortgage and at the end of the term the borrower fully owns their home. Monthly installments include interest payments and principal payments.
15-Year Fixed Mortgage: This mortgage is paid off over 15 years, usually at a lower interest rate compared to a 30-year mortgage. The benefit of a 15-year mortgage is that homeowners can save significantly on interest over the life of the loan. However, this comes with higher monthly payments. As of now, 15-year mortgage rates remain attractive to borrowers seeking to pay off their loans faster.
30-Year Fixed Mortgage: The most popular mortgage type in the U.S., the 30-year fixed mortgage, spreads payments over three decades, offering lower monthly payments compared to the 15-year mortgage. This makes it more manageable for many buyers, though it comes with higher total interest costs. The 30-year fixed mortgage rates are closely watched indicators of the housing market's health.
Adjustable rate mortgages, or ARMs, fix the borrowing rates for a pre-defined period of years after which the borrowing rate is 'floating' meaning it adjusts based on prevailing market rates.
5/1 ARM Mortgages: A 5/1 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM) is a type of home loan with an interest rate that adjusts every 1 year after it is fixed for the first 5 years. This type of mortgage is often attractive for those who plan to pay off their mortgage, sell, or refinance their home before the end of the initial five-year period, as the initial rate for a 5/1 ARM is typically lower than that of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. However, it carries the risk of higher payments in the future if interest rates rise.
7/1 ARM Mortgages: Similar to the 5/1 ARM, a 7/1 Adjustable-Rate Mortgage offers a fixed interest rate for the first seven years of the loan term. After seven years, the interest rate adjusts annually. The 7/1 ARM is a suitable option for borrowers who anticipate to pay off their mortgage or who plan to sell or refinance their home within seven years. The initial lower interest rate compared to fixed-rate mortgages makes it an appealing choice, but borrowers should be prepared for potential rate increases after the initial seven-year period.
A conforming loan is a mortgage that meets the underwriting guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) that buy mortgages from lenders. The most significant requirement for a conforming loan is its size. For 2023, the conforming loan limit for a single-family home in most areas of the U.S. is $647,200. Loans that exceed these limits are considered jumbo mortgages. The requirements for a loan to be deemed conforming are set by the Federal Housing Financing Agency (FHFA). The latest conforming loan requirements can be found here.
Jumbo mortgages are home loans that exceed the conforming loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These loans are typically used to purchase high-value properties.
Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation) are government-sponsored enterprises created by Congress. These entities buy mortgages from lenders, package them into securities, and sell them to investors. By doing so, they provide liquidity, stability, and affordability to the mortgage market.
Refinance rates refer to the interest rates available to homeowners who wish to refinance their existing mortgage. Refinancing can allow homeowners to take advantage of lower interest rates, thereby reducing monthly payments or changing the term of their loan. The 15-year fixed mortgage rates are often considered by those looking to refinance, as they can offer a balance between lower interest rates and a shorter loan term.
Freddie Mac, 15-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average in the United States [MORTGAGE15US], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MORTGAGE15US, February 22nd, 2024.
Freddie Mac, 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgage Average in the United States [MORTGAGE30US], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MORTGAGE30US, February 22nd, 2024.
This product uses the FRED® API but is not endorsed or certified by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.