Today's Mortgage Rates -- May 18, 2021: Rates Up Again

by Christy Bieber | Updated July 19, 2021 - First published on May 18, 2021

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Hollow model home on top of stacks of cash with Today's Mortgage Rates graphic.

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Paying attention to average mortgage rates is a good idea if you're in the market for a home.

A home mortgage is the largest debt most people take on, so it's important to pay attention to mortgage rates if you are thinking about borrowing to buy a home.

Check out today's average mortgage rates for May 18, 2021 to see how rates are trending and decide if now is a good time to borrow:

Mortgage Type Today's Interest Rate
30-year fixed mortgage 3.161%
20-year fixed mortgage 2.991%
15-year fixed mortgage 2.413%
5/1 ARM 2.948%

Data source: The Ascent's national mortgage interest rate tracking.

30-year mortgage rates

The average 30-year mortgage rate today is 3.161%, up 0.017% from yesterday's average of 3.144%. If you borrow at today's average rate, you'd have a monthly principal and interest payment of $430 per $100,000 borrowed. Over the life of the loan, your total interest costs would add up to $54,921 per $100,000 borrowed.

20-year mortgage rates

The average 20-year mortgage rate today is 2.991%, up 0.02% from yesterday's average of 2.971%. At today's average rate, the monthly principal and interest payment would add up to $554 per $100,000 in mortgage debt. During your entire loan repayment period, you'd pay total interest costs of $32,995 per $100,000 borrowed.

When deciding on the best loan term for you, you'll need to choose between keeping your total borrowing costs as low as possible or keeping your monthly payments as low as possible. As you can see, the 20-year loan is much cheaper than the 30-year over time but each monthly payment is higher.

15-year mortgage rates

The average 15-year mortgage rate today is 2.413%, up 0.004% from yesterday's average of 2.409%. At today's average rate, you'd pay $663 per month in principal and interest per $100,000 borrowed. For each $100,000 you borrow at today's average rate, total interest costs would add up to $19,286.

Monthly payments on a 15-year mortgage are even higher than the 20-year or 30-year loan options but you save even more in total borrowing costs. Consider what you'd be giving up, though, by committing to such large monthly payments.

5/1 ARMs

The average 5/1 ARM rate is 2.948%, up 0.107% from yesterday's average of 2.841%. This rate is below the interest rate on 30-year fixed-rate loans, but not by a lot. If you opt for a 5/1 ARM, your starting rate is guaranteed only for the first five years and could adjust upward or downward annually after that. If the rate adjusts up, that would make monthly payments higher and total costs higher. Think carefully about whether the risk of rising rates is worth it.

Should I lock my mortgage rate now?

A mortgage rate lock guarantees you a certain interest rate for a specified period of time -- usually 30 days, but you may be able to secure your rate for up to 60 days. You'll generally pay a fee to lock in your mortgage rate, but that way, you're protected in case rates climb between now and when you actually close on your mortgage.

If you plan to close on your home within the next 30 days, then it pays to lock in your mortgage rate based on today's rates -- especially since they're so competitive. But if your closing is more than 30 days away, you may want to choose a floating rate lock instead for what will usually be a higher fee, but one that could save you money in the long run. A floating rate lock lets you secure a lower rate on your mortgage if rates fall prior to your closing, and while today's rates are still quite low, we don't know if rates will go up or down over the next few months. As such, it pays to:

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

To find out what rates are available to you, compare rates from at least three of the best mortgage lenders before locking in.

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Mortgage rates are at their highest level in years — and expected to keep rising. It is more important than ever to check your rates with multiple lenders to secure the best rate possible while minimizing fees. Even a small difference in your rate could shave hundreds off your monthly payment.

That is where Better Mortgage comes in.

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