If you're in the market to buy a home, you're likely laser focused on listing prices to keep you within your budget. The price tag is certainly important, but don't forget to factor in mortgage rates when it comes to your purchasing power.
Current mortgage rates are still low, making it a good time to buy. In fact, locking in at today's rates could make a home that was once unaffordable, affordable.
It's unlikely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its all-time record low in 2012 of 3.31%. However, mortgage rates are still low compared to almost any year since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971. Today, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is around 3.6%— down from 4.53% a year ago.
|Mortgage Rate||Monthly Mortgage Payment*|
|Mortgage Rate: 3.31% - all-time low in 2012||Monthly Mortgage Payment*: $1,457|
|Mortgage Rate: 3.6% - today||Monthly Mortgage Payment*: $1,493|
|Mortgage Rate: 4.53% - last year||Monthly Mortgage Payment*: $1,614|
|Mortgage Rate: 6.29% - avg. rate from 2000 - 2009||Monthly Mortgage Payment*: $1,862|
|Mortgage Rate: 18.63% – all-time high in 1981||Monthly Mortgage Payment*: $3,977|
* Mortgage payments are based principal and interest only, based on a $250,000 fully amortizing mortgage. All terms are assumed to be 30 years.
As you can see, mortgage rates play a big role in how much home you can afford and it's important to watch them carefully if you're in the market to buy. The savings from securing a 3.6% rate versus 4.53% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is $121 per month – $10 more than the average monthly electric bill in the United States. The savings add up fast, and over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan, you'd save a total of $43,560 on interest payments.
Buying a home is a big investment — perhaps the biggest one you'll make in your life. If you've done your homework and are ready to make your purchase, your stars may be aligned.