Historical Mortgage Rates

Photo by nikcname (via Flickr)
Photo by nikcname (via Flickr)

Historical Mortgage Rates Comparison

If this is the first time you've ever been in the mortgage market, you probably don't know much about historical mortgage rates. Many people take for granted how low rates actually are right now.

For example, the national average mortgage rate on a 30 year fixed was above 10% as recently as 1990! People forget that single digit mortgage rates are a relatively recent phenomenon. While working as a mortgage loan originator, I would frequently try to remind borrowers of this fact when they were upset that their credit didn't qualify them for a 5% rate. In the context of historical mortgage rates, something in the 6% to 8% range is truly outstanding.

Where can you find out more about historical mortgage rates?

There are many great resources on the web that allow you to track down data for historic mortgage rates.  Here are some of the best:

  • Mortgage News Daily: Provides a variety of mortgage rates as far back as 1971.
  • Freddie Mac: Here you can find the average monthly mortgage rate and number of points on 30 year fixed rate loans.

A Lecture at Yale on the History of the Mortgage Market

How much do mortgage rates change in the short term?

Many times when you're talking to a lender or broker they will try to tell you how important it is to lock in your rate with a commitment.  The truth is, it's very rare that you will see your mortgage rate change more than an eighth or a quarter point over the course of a few days.  More often than not, the person you're working with is simply trying to make sure that you are locked into doing a loan with them (since your rate lock isn't transferable to another bank).

All of this is to say, don't be afraid to look around before you commit to a mortgage rate.  It is in your best interest to make sure that you see if anyone can offer you something better.  Also, don't worry about pulling your credit with several companies over a short period of time.  Any credit checks that happen within the same industry over a 21 day period will actually "hit your credit score" the same way a single credit pull would.  The credit bureaus do this because they know it is in your best interest to shop around and they don't want to make you look like an irresponsible borrower when you're actually demonstrating how responsible you are.

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