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Mortgage rates have dipped — is it a good time to buy a home? Experts weigh in.


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Some mortgage rates have fallen slightly: The average interest rate on a fixed rate 30-year mortgage now sits at 4.20% and the average annual percentage rate is 4.25%, down from 4.29% and 4.23%, respectively. The average interest rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage remains unchanged from a day prior at 3.48% (the APR is 3.46%), according to data released today from Bankrate. You can see what mortgage rates you qualify for here.

Source: Bankrate

What do these mortgage interest rates mean?

Mortgage interest rate fluctuations are common — and can occur for many reasons, such as inflation, economic growth and monetary policy changes. Most fluctuations are small, but “a quarter point move in the span of a couple weeks would be significant,” explains Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.

How much does the interest rate really matter?

Even difference of 1% can add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a loan. Consider: On a $300,000 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 3% vs. a 4% APR, you’d end up paying more than $60,000 more for the mortgage at the higher rate.  Here’sa MarketWatch Picks guide on whether or not you should buy points to lower your mortgage interest rate.

Is now a good time to buy a home?

The housing market has gone through a lot of changes in the last year and a half so Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at NerdWallet, says: “It’s best not to try to time the market. If you wait on the expectation that prices will fall in a year or two, you might be disappointed.” Instead, “buy now if you’re sure you’re ready and you can afford a home … it’s a highly personal question without a one-size-fits-all answer,” says Lewis.

And Denny Ceizyk, LendingTree’s senior staff writer for mortgage, recently told MarketWatch Picks that the decision of whether to buy now depends on whether you’re financially prepared for homeownership and how long you plan to live in the home you’re buying, because even if home prices dip, they generally recover in the long run. “While home prices are rising, interest rates remain [near] 60-year lows, making it much more affordable to buy higher-priced homes,” says Ceizyk. But others disagree: Nicole Bachaud, economic data analyst at Zillow, recently told us: “The market today is very competitive and bidding wars are common in many areas of the country. With inventory trending up, waiting to buy could mean a more balanced market between buyers and sellers.” 

That said, if you’re ready to buy and stay long term, these may be some of the best mortgage rates you’ll get. But be sure to shop around to get the best rates, and find a home you can afford without too much stress on your budget. It’s also important to consider other costs like closing costs (these tend to run roughly 2-5% of the cost of the loan), insurance and property taxes.

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