The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically changed the way we live, and as a result, new trends are emerging around where, exactly, we want to call home.
United States Postal Service mail forwarding data from January through mid-September 2020 shows that many in the nation’s cities moved to suburbs, presumably in search of more space while so many of us are working from home. New York City saw the biggest population shifts of any city in the country, and Texas had the most movement as a state, driven by people leaving the downtown cores of Houston, Dallas and Austin, mostly for nearby suburbs.
If you are looking to move to the city, right now is a great time to buy in downtown city neighborhoods, because prices there are holding steady or even declining a little as competition for housing in suburbs heats up. Coupled with historically low mortgage rates, there are good deals to be found that could give you a great return on investment when cities reach their new post-pandemic equilibrium. Keep in mind that lots of cities have more public health restrictions in place than less-dense areas, so make sure you know the municipal rules before you plan to move.
If you are looking to move to the suburbs or away from a city center, be prepared for the aforementioned competition. You’ll want to do everything you can to make yourself an attractive buyer, so get preapproved for your mortgage and be ready to act fast when you find a house that’s the right fit.
Keep in mind that prices in the suburbs have been going up as demand has increased and supply has stagnated, so it may be harder to stick to your budget. You need to be prepared to walk away from a house you may love so you don’t wind up with a bigger mortgage than you can afford.
What is a 30-year fixed mortgage?
A fixed-rate mortgage has an interest rate that doesn’t change over the full term of the loan, which, for a 30-year mortgage (as the name suggests) is 30 years. It’s a popular choice for many homebuyers because of its stable monthly principal and interest payments ideal for predictable monthly household budgets, at a more affordable cost than shorter-term loans.
Historical 30-year rates
According to Freddie Mac historical data, the 30-year fixed rate shot up to about 18 percent in September and October of 1981, which would give current homebuyers quite the sticker shock. The U.S. was in the midst of an economic recession back then, and the Federal Reserve hiked rates in an effort to curb inflation.
Today, mortgage rates are near historic lows, hovering around 3 percent. Knowing where rates have been — and what drives them — can help you put things into perspective as you evaluate loan offers.
When the housing crisis hit in 2008, the average annual 30-year fixed rate was 6.23 percent, according to historical Bankrate data. Since then, it has fallen considerably. When 30-year fixed mortgage rates decline, getting a mortgage is more affordable for homebuyers and those looking to refinance. However, home-prices, which have been rising for the last several years, can present a barrier for potential homeowners even when mortgage rates are low.
The benchmark 30-year fixed rate hit a record low of 3.03 percent during the week of Oct. 28, 2020, according to historical Bankrate data.
Bankrate average annual 30-year fixed mortgage rate, 2008-2018
When to consider a 30-year fixed mortgage
Choosing the right home loan is an important step in the homebuying process, and you have a lot of options. You need to take several factors into consideration, including your credit score, income, down payment amount, budget and financial goals. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Pros of a 30-year mortgage
Cons of a 30-year mortgage
Is a 30-year fixed mortgage right for you?
Choosing the right home loan is an important step in the homebuying process, and you have a lot of options. You need to take several factors into consideration, such as your credit score, income, down payment amount, budget and financial goals. Here’s how a 30-year fixed mortgage stacks up against other loan types.
Refinancing a 30-year mortgage
It’s generally a good idea to refinance your 30-year fixed mortgage into a new loan if you can get a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, or improve your financial situation in another way. However, if you’re several years into repaying your loan and you refinance into a new 30-year mortgage, you’ll be paying more total interest in the long run by starting the repayment clock from scratch again.
You’ll also need to determine if the closing costs on your new loan outweigh the savings you’ll gain from lower monthly payments over time. When you refinance a 30-year mortgage, you’ll pay lender origination fees and third-party fees for an appraisal and other closing costs. Most lenders also require you to have at least 20 percent equity in your home to refinance, so make sure you qualify before planning a new budget for yourself.
Keep in mind that most mortgage refinances set to close on or after Dec. 1, 2020 will be assessed a 0.5 percent fee, which will make them slightly more expensive. Many lenders are already pricing the fee into their loan offers. The fee was announced by the Federal Housing Finance Agency earlier this year, and applies to all FHFA-backed loans valued at $125,000 or more.
If you can, consider refinancing a 30-year mortgage into a shorter loan, which will avoid lengthening your repayment and save you on interest. Keep in mind, though, you might have a higher monthly payment depending where you are in the amortization schedule.
How do I view personalized 30-year mortgage rates?
Use the tool at the top of this page to see what kind of rates are available in your situation. You just need to give us a little information about your finances and where you live. With that data, Bankrate can show you real-time estimates of mortgages available to you from a number of providers.
Other mortgage tools:
Peter has written for his local magazines, Country Zest & Style and Middleburg Life as their Wine contributor. He also enjoys writing blogs on interesting and pertinent real estate matters, so please follow!