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Today’s mortgage and refinance rates: May 16, 2021 | Rates go up

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All mortgage and refinance rates have increased since last Sunday, and most are up since this time last month. Mortgage rates are still low overall, though, so it could be a good time to lock in a rate.

Mortgage rates should remain relatively low for at least a few months, so you don’t need to hurry to buy to take advantage of low rates if you aren’t ready.

But if you know you want to buy soon, you should probably start the process of applying for preapproval and locking in a rate. According to a study by Redfin, over half of homes in the US are selling in two weeks or less right now. So once you’re ready to buy, you’ll want to be able to act fast.

Conventional rates from Money.com; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Learn more and get offers from multiple lenders »

The lowest mortgage rate today is the 15-year fixed rate.

Rates for conventional mortgages, which you may consider “normal mortgages,” are already low right now. But government-backed mortgages through the FHA and VA usually pay even lower rates, depending on which term length you choose. Government mortgages are good options if you qualify.

Conventional rates from Money.com; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Compare offers from refinancing lenders »

Refinance rates tend to be higher than purchase rates, but they’re still low in general.

Mortgage rates are up since last weekend, but they’re still low overall. It could be a good time to lock in a rate.

But rates probably won’t significantly increase anytime soon, so you don’t have to rush to take advantage of low rates. Rates will probably remain low for several months, if not longer. You may have time to improve your finances to get a better rate. 

To get the best possible rate, consider these steps before applying:  

  • Boost your credit score by making payments on time, paying down debt, or letting your credit age. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate will likely be.
  • Save more for a down paymentThe minimum down payment you’ll need depends on which type of mortgage you are after. But a higher down payment usually results in a lower rate.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount you pay toward debts each month, divided by your gross monthly income. Most lenders want to see a ratio of 36% or less. To lower your ratio, pay down debts or consider ways to increase your income. 

You can secure a low rate now if your finances are in good shape, but you don’t need to rush to get a mortgage or refinance if you’re not prepared. 

Mortgage rate trends

Mortgage rates have increased since last Sunday. Other than 15-year fixed rates, mortgage rates have also gone up since this time last month.

Refinance rate trends

Refinance rates are up since last weekend, and most rates have increased since this time last month.

A 15-year fixed mortgage locks in your rate for the entire 15 years you spend paying down your loan.

A 15-year fixed mortgage has higher monthly payments than a 30-year fixed mortgage, because you’re paying off the same mortgage principal in half the time. 

But a 15-year mortgage ultimately costs less than a longer term. You’ll pay off the mortgage in fewer years, and you’ll get a lower interest rate.  

With a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your loan over 30 years, and your rate stays locked in for the entire time. 

You’ll pay a higher interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage than on a shorter-term fixed-rate mortgage. But you may pay a lower rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage than on an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Monthly payments are lower for 30-year mortgages than for shorter terms, because you’re spreading payments out over a longer period of time.

You’ll pay more in interest in the long run with a 30-year term than you would for a shorter term, because a) the rate is higher, and b) you’ll be paying interest for longer.

A fixed-rate mortgage sets your rate for the entire time you’re paying off your mortgage. But with an adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll pay a constant rate for a predetermined amount of time. After that, your rate will vary periodically. A 10/1 ARM sets your rate for a decade, then your rate will fluctuate yearly.

Although ARM rates are at all-time lows now, you may still want to get a fixed-rate mortgage. The 30-year fixed rates are lower than ARM rates, so it could be an excellent opportunity to secure a low rate with a fixed mortgage. This way, you won’t need to worry about your rate increasing in the future with an ARM.

If you’re considering getting an ARM, ask your lender what your rates would be if you chose a fixed-rate versus an adjustable-rate mortgage.

We’re also displaying rates for FHA and VA mortgages. These are two kinds of government-backed mortgages. Another type is a USDA mortgage, a less common loan for buyers who live in rural areas.

Government-backed mortgages are backed by government agencies. If you default on your payments, the agency pays the lender back. Because these mortgages are less risky than conventional mortgages, lenders have lower requirements for your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or down payment. They also often have lower interest rates.

Government-backed mortgages can be great deals if you qualify. Here are your options:

  • FHA mortgage: This type of loan isn’t limited to a certain type of person. But it’s particularly useful if your credit score isn’t good enough to qualify for a conventional mortgage.
  • VA mortgage: You may qualify if you’re an active military member or veteran.
  • USDA mortgage: You’ll be eligible if you live in a rural area and fall under a certain income limit.

Mortgage and refinance rates by state

Check the latest rates in your state at the links below. 

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

About the authors

Laura Grace Tarpley is an editor at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, and lending. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her five years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to navigate loans.

Ryan Wangman is a reviews fellow at Personal Finance Insider reporting on mortgages, refinancing, loans, bank accounts, and bank reviews. In his past experience writing about personal finance, he has written about credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

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