Mortgage interest rates favorable to home buying are still available. Mortgage interest rates have moved higher than the sub-six percent levels that were available from 2003-2005, however, the current 30-year 6.34 percent fixed mortgage average is still well below the eight percent average over the last 20 years. The most important characteristic of mortgage interest rates is whether they are fixed or adjustable.


Fixed Rates

Since July of 2002, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage has remained below 6.5 percent. While Federal Reserve short term interest rate increases affect fixed mortgage rates other indicators are also crucial; yields on long term government bonds and fixed rate mortgages are closely linked. Demand for US government bonds and domestic inflation that weighs heavy on that demand must be examined. Low six percent mortgage interest rates will become a luxury of the past as rates move into the upper 6s in the second half of 2006 bound to revisit the ten-year average of 6.9 percent. Regardless, borrowers are still favoring fixed-rate mortgages over adjustable-rate mortgages because the difference in initial rates is not enticing; current 30-year fixed rate averages 6.34 percent, while a 5/1 ARM is 6.08 percent and a one-year ARM is 5.73 percent.


Adjustable Rates & the ARM

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) it might be smart to keep a close eye on interest rate movements in the market. ARMs bound to reset in 2007 with a hefty increase in their monthly mortgage payment may be an unpleasantly surprise some folks. Those people whose ARMs have already reset know that substantial increases in monthly mortgage payments can be burdensome to say the least. The one year Treasury, a common index for adjustable rate mortgages, may top five percent by the time the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates, add on the margin of 2.5 percentage points and many ARM borrowers will be looking at a rate of 7.5 percent. Households that can withstand an increase in their monthly mortgage payment may opt for an ARM in hopes of seeing mortgage interest rates fall if the Federal Reserve does have to lower short term interest rates in the further off future. For people on a more fixed income who have or are thinking about an adjustable rate mortgage beware that short term interest rates, which are on an upward trend, can drastically affect a person's mortgage debt load.


Mortgage Interest Rates - Where do we go from here?

Mortgage interest rates are still on an upward trend and the hot refinance market has been cooling off. People are refinancing, but their motivations are different. Most refinancing that is going on right now is more need-driven than rate-driven, people are getting out of ARM mortgages as opposed to everyone looking for lower rates. That being said, for people who have not refinanced and can qualify for a lower rate, immediately is always the best time to get started. The 30-year fixed rate average, mentioned above, of 6.34 percent very well may rise to match the 6.9 percent ten-year average in the latter half of 2006; however, that is still well below the 20-year average of eight percent.


More Indicators

Mortgage interest rates have more indicators than discussed above that can predict the movements of mortgage interest rates with decent accuracy. Of course, the short term interest rate is a vital metric, but let's takes another look at the link between 30-year fixed mortgage rates and long term government bonds. You already know that the fluctuations of 30-year fixed mortgage rate averages are closely tied to the yields of 10 year Treasury notes. Those Treasury notes rose precisely a quarter-point during the eight weeks between Federal Reserve meetings, from 4.53 percent on January 31 to 4.78 percent on March 28. Similar to that mentioned above, fixed mortgage rates don't move in lock step with long term Treasury yields, but it's a pretty good indicator. One last thing to remember, currently variable interest rates on adjustable mortgages seem to be moving in tandem with federal fund rates, which are moving upward - that's one last warning for you folks with adjustable rate mortgages. Whether you already own a mortgage and need to revise your debt strategy or you are looking at a new loan, let do for you as it has done for hundreds of thousands of others - provide free quotes while putting you in touch with knowledgeable loan professionals.

Published on May 5, 2006