Today's Mortgage Rates -- September 17, 2020: The 30-Year Holds Steady at Under 3%

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Today's mortgage rates offer a lot of great opportunity. It could really pay to get moving with your application.

Mortgage rates change all the time. In fact, you might get a completely different offer from one day to the next, so it's important to keep tabs on how they're trending. Here's what today's rates look like:

Term Today's Rate APR
30-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate 2.952% 3.090%
20-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate 2.980% 3.130%
15-Year Fixed Mortgage Rate 2.467% 2.643%
5/1 ARM 3.422% 3.476%

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

30-year mortgage rates

The average 30-year mortgage rate today is 2.952%. That's a slight increase from earlier in the week, but still a great rate to be had. At today's rate, you'll pay principal and interest of $419.02 for every $100,000 you borrow. Your total monthly costs will be higher, however, because you'll also need to pay property taxes and cover homeowners insurance premiums. And you may have other expenses, like private mortgage insurance or HOA fees, to contend with.

Check out The Ascent's mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be and how much your loan will ultimately cost you. You can also find out how much money you'd save by snagging a lower interest rate, making a larger down payment, or opting for a shorter loan term.

20-year mortgage rates

The average interest rate for a 20-year fixed mortgage is 2.980%, which, surprisingly, is higher than what the 30-year mortgage is averaging. At today's rate, you’ll pay principal and interest of $553.40 for every $100,000 you borrow. Obviously, that's more than what you'll spend monthly with a 30-year loan, but you'll also pay $18,000 less in interest per $100,000 you borrow.

15-year mortgage rates

The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed mortgage is 2.467%. That's a modest increase from earlier this week but a terrific deal nonetheless. Today's rate means you'll pay $665.47 in principal and interest for every $100,000 you borrow. But your long-term interest savings will be huge. Compared to the 20-year mortgage, you'll spend $13,000 less in interest per $100,000 borrowed.

5/1 ARMs

The average interest rate for a 5/1 ARM is 3.422%, which is significantly higher than the average rate for a 30-year loan. And that means the 5/1 ARM makes little sense right now. The whole point of an ARM is to snag a lower interest rate initially, and in exchange, bear the risk of your rate adjusting upward once your introductory period comes to an end. But if you're not getting that initial lower rate, then there's no sense in getting an ARM.

Should I lock in a mortgage right 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 still extremely 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

If you're ready to take the leap into homeownership, shop around with different mortgage lenders before accepting an offer. Remember, each lender sets its own standards with regard to factors like your credit score, so you may find that one offer comes in a lot lower than another. Also, be sure to pay attention to the closing costs you're presented with. It may be the case that a lower interest rate on one mortgage offer comes with higher fees, so look at the whole picture before making your decision.

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