May 26, 2024

Top Ranked Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage interest rates trended downward again this week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The 30-year fixed rate fell to the lowest rate since early April, and adjustable mortgage rates pulled back slightly. Meanwhile, the 15-year fixed rate stayed about the same as the week prior.

Looking forward, mortgage interest rates are still forecasted to decline somewhat throughout 2024, as the Federal Reserve projects rate cuts will begin sometime later this year. Here are the current mortgage rates, as of May 15:

  • 30-year fixed: 7.08% with 0.63 points (previous week: 7.18% with 0.65 points).
  • 15-year fixed: 6.61% with 0.65 points (previous week: 6.6% with 0.59 points).
  • 5/1 ARM: 6.56% with 0.66 points (previous week: 6.6% with 0.65 points).
  • 30-year jumbo loans: 7.22% with 0.58 points (previous week: 7.31% with 0.46 points).
  • 30-year FHA loans: 6.86% with 0.94 points (previous week: 6.92% with 0.91 points).

A mortgage is a loan from a bank or other lender used to buy or refinance a home.

Mortgages are secured loans: The property acts as collateral as you repay the loan in monthly installments, including interest, often over 15 to 30 years. If you fail to pay, the lender can foreclose on your home.

Find the Mortgage That’s Right for You

Your mortgage interest rate is the annual cost of your loan amount, expressed as a percentage of the total loan amount. It does not include fees and other costs. A 5% interest rate on a mortgage means you will pay 5% of your loan’s balance in interest each year. Your mortgage also has an annual percentage rate that reflects your interest rate plus other charges, such as most closing costs, discount points and origination fees.

Mortgage interest rates can be fixed or adjustable. Whether a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage is best can depend on market conditions, your finances and how long you plan to keep your mortgage.

Pros:

  • Buying a home if you can’t afford to pay cash for it.
  • Building equity as your home typically appreciates.
  • Improving your credit score with consistent, on-time mortgage payments.
  • Claiming money-saving tax breaks.
  • Allowing you control over home improvements and upgrades.

Cons:

  • Budgeting for property taxes, homeowners association fees and repairs.
  • Meeting certain credit score and debt-to-income, or DTI, requirements.
  • Having to pay a down payment, closing costs and other upfront expenses.
  • Having less flexibility if you want to move for a job or to care for a loved one.

You will find plenty of mortgage options if a down payment has been a roadblock to homeownership. Note that you will usually need to pay private mortgage insurance with less than 20% down, however.

No-down-payment mortgages: Try certain government-backed loans. You may qualify for a VA loan with no down payment and no PMI, or a USDA loan with nothing down and PMI.

Low down-payment mortgages: Put down 3% for some conventional loans and 3.5% for FHA loans with at least a fair credit score on the FICO scale. FHA loans require you to carry mortgage insurance and conventional loans require it if your down payment is low.

How Do You Get Preapproved for a Mortgage?

Before you begin to browse homes, you should start the mortgage preapproval process. Getting preapproved for a mortgage allows you to compare your estimated mortgage rate across multiple lenders before you formally apply. Some sellers only work with preapproved buyers, plus preapproval allows you to make an offer as soon as you find a place you love.

Here’s how the mortgage preapproval process works:

The mortgage process looks different depending on whether you are purchasing or refinancing a home. Here are some of the basic steps involved in getting a mortgage to buy a house:

  1. Apply for the mortgage.
  2. Review your loan estimate.
  3. Lock in your mortgage rate.
  4. Purchase discount points, if any.
  5. Schedule a home inspection.
  6. Pay for a home appraisal.
  7. Purchase homeowners insurance.
  8. Budget time for mortgage processing.
  9. Review the closing disclosure.
  10. Close on the loan.

Ask for a loan from a family member. Make sure the terms of the loan are clear and in writing. Keep in mind that borrowing money from a loved one can strain your relationship, however.

Look into seller financing. The seller acts as the lender in this type of real estate agreement. Seller financing could mean lower closing costs and flexible terms. On the other hand, sellers offer fewer buyer protections and may charge higher interest rates compared with traditional lenders.

Rent to own. A portion of your monthly rent is credited toward the purchase of the home at the end of the lease. If you change your mind, you will lose the extra rent money and any fee that holds your chance to buy the home.

Hold off on buying a home. Wait a few years until you have more in your savings account. Although a 20% down payment is the rule of thumb, you can still qualify with smaller amounts. If you’re young, you will also have a chance to build more credit history and figure out where you want to live.

The right mortgage for you will depend on your finances, plans and preferences. Here are common types of mortgages:

Conventional mortgages. These mortgages are not guaranteed by the federal government and are funded by private lenders. You may need a minimum credit score of 620, a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43% and a down payment of at least 3% to qualify.

Government-backed mortgages. You may have more success getting one of these loans than a conventional loan because a government agency insures it, reducing the lender’s risk. These loans are issued by private lenders and guaranteed by the government:

Jumbo mortgagesJumbo loans exceed conforming loan limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency and have stricter qualification standards because of the risk to lenders.

Balloon mortgages. These home loans feature lower monthly payments paired with a larger lump-sum payment during the loan term.

Mortgage lenders want to know the risk of lending you money. A lender will look at not only your credit history but also your income, down payment and other key factors when reviewing your application. Here’s what lenders will consider when determining your eligibility for a mortgage and, ultimately, your interest rate:

Credit score. Your credit score is a major factor, but the minimum credit score to buy a house can vary by lender and loan program.

DTI ratio. Your DTI is the percentage of your monthly income that is spent on repaying debt.

Down payment. Your down payment is the amount you pay upfront for the property, while the mortgage covers the rest. A larger down payment can lead to a lower interest rate on your mortgage.

Loan amount. The larger your mortgage, the greater the risk for your lender. Lenders limit risk by following government loan limits. If you want to buy a property that costs more than these limits, you can apply for a jumbo loan.

Loan term. The term is how long you have to repay the loan. The longer the term, the lower your monthly payments. A longer term typically has a higher interest rate and higher total costs compared with a shorter loan term.

Loan type. Make sure you understand your options to choose the right type of mortgage for your credit profile and your budget.

You can evaluate mortgage companies based on four key factors:

  • Interest rates. Because mortgage rates can vary by lender and loan type, you may find a deal by comparison shopping.
  • Closing costs. When you factor in closing costs, which can include application, appraisal and loan origination fees, the lender with the lowest rate may not offer the best overall mortgage costs. Compare costs between lenders using the APRs.
  • Loan types. Look for a mortgage lender in your state with options that work for you, whether that’s a 30-year fixed-rate loan, a VA loan or something else.
  • Customer service reviews. Use customer service feedback to research each lender’s performance. Lenders should not only offer great loan rates but also treat customers well.

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