Compare Best Mortgage Rates for October 2020

Buying a home is typically a long term investment. When you buy a home, you generally have several decades to pay off the loan. In fact, while there are different loan terms to choose from, most home buyers opt for mortgage loans that have a standard 30-year repayment term. Given the time and financial investment it takes to buy a home, you need to choose a mortgage from the top mortgage lenders on the market. Buying a home is, after all, one of the most important decisions you can make — and it’s important to make sure you’ve secured the best loan for your needs.

In this article

    Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

    The interest rate table below is updated daily to reflect the most current purchase rates available in the market. According to Bankrate’s latest survey of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, these are the current average rates for a 30-year, 15-year fixed mortgage and 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) rates among others.

    Product Interest Rate APR
    30-Year Fixed Rate3.030%3.370%
    30-Year FHA Rate3.240%3.740%
    30-Year VA Rate2.960%3.120%
    30-Year Fixed Jumbo Rate3.090%3.210%
    20-Year Fixed Rate2.980%3.270%
    15-Year Fixed Rate2.560%2.890%
    15-Year Fixed Jumbo Rate2.600%2.660%
    5/1 ARM Rate3.060%4.060%
    5/1 ARM Jumbo Refinance Rate2.950%4.030%
    7/1 ARM Rate2.950%3.960%
    7/1 ARM Jumbo Refinance Rate2.980%3.930%
    10/1 ARM Rate3.040%3.910%

    Rates data as of 10/21/2020

    Why trust The Simple Dollar?

    Research Methodology

    The SimpleScore makes it easy to compare current mortgage rate products and services featured here on The Simple Dollar in a transparent, open and honest way. We rate these products and services using five factors and average them to come up with a single SimpleScore For mortgages, we compare: perks, credit impact to check rates, customer satisfaction, product variety and fees.

    While you shop for your next mortgage loan, use our ratings and comparisons to help you choose the best mortgage lender that fits your specific needs.

    How coronavirus affects mortgage rates

    Mortgage rates have been on a steady decline since the start of the pandemic, making it the perfect time to refinance or purchase your home and reap the savings benefits. If you want to take advantage of these rates, though, be aware that you should move quickly, as rates are on the rise again and may continue to fluctuate with demand.

    For example, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was hovering near record lows in mid-October. As of Oct. 8, 2020, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was about 2.87% — which was a slight drop from the 2.88% average the week prior. The lowest rate we’ve seen during this pandemic was 2.86% in early September. That’s the lowest mortgage rates have been since 1971. For perspective, the average rates were 3.57% just one year ago.

    Most experts predict that rates will stay low for the rest of 2020, making the buyer’s market more competitive. Fannie Mac is predicting declining rates into 2021, and other experts have echoed this prediction. If the rates follow this predicted course, buyers will get some of the best deals on interest rates, but will have increased demand and tighter lending parameters to contend with.

    In turn, lenders are expecting steady income and high credit scores for approval during this time, so you’ll need to talk to your preferred lender to see how you can get the heftiest savings possible.

    The higher cost of refinancing due to COVID-19

    It’s important to note that mortgage refinancing has become more expensive due, in part, to COVID-19. As of Sept. 1, 20202, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac began imposing a new fee of 0.5% refinances. The move was unexpected, but according to the mortgage giants, this emergency fee will help cover “risk management and loss forecasting precipitated by COVID-19 related economic and market uncertainty.”

    What that means for homeowners who are refinancing is that a refi will now be significantly more expensive than it was prior to Sept. 1. For example, a borrower who’s refinancing a $150,000 loan will now have to pay an extra $750 with the new fee on top of the typical fees and closing costs that come with refinancing. Borrowers with loan amounts of $300,000 will pay an extra $1,500 on top of the closing costs for the loan.

    This new fee could add a significant amount to the cost of refinancing, so it’s important to note it when you’re weighing the other costs of your refi. If you only stood to save a small amount by refinancing, this new fee could make it more expensive to refinance than it’s worth. Whether that’s the case for you is your call, but be sure to take it into account when doing the math.

    Finding the best mortgage interest rates could save you tens of thousands of dollars or more on your interest payments over the life of the loan. We’ve used our SimpleScore methodology to access the nation’s largest lenders on current rates, customer service, product variety, fees, and credit impact.

    Compare best mortgage rates from top lenders

    LenderAPRInterest rateTerm length
    Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans2.75%–3.75%3.402%–4.798%10-, 15 and 30-year fixed-rate loans
    Guild Mortgage3.335%–3.816%2.90%–3.51%10 to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
     3, 5, 7 and 10-year ARM
    Navy Federal Credit Union2.338%–4.149%2.750%–3.875%10 to 30-year fixed and adjustable-rate home loans
    Chase2.611%–2.933%2.490%–2.875%15 to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
    5 and 7-year ARM
    USAA Mortgage3.717%–4.850%3.500%–4.625%10 to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
    5-year ARM
    SunTrust Mortgage2.4858%–2.9303%2.700%–2.800%15 to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
    5-year ARM
    New American Funding2.610%–2.940%2.250%–2.750%15 to 30-year fixed-rate mortgages
    3, 5 and 7-year ARM

    Best user experience – Rocket Mortgage

    Rocket Loans has blasted the competition with its modern interface and process. Puns aside, it’s one of our all-around favorites. Customers comfortable with mobile apps and online banking will enjoy the seamless process offered by Rocket Mortgage.

    J.D. Power Rating
    5/5
    Min. Credit
    620
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    3.4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Rocket Mortgage 3.4
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 4
    Customer Satisfaction 5
    Product Variety 3
    Fees 1

    Rocket Loans is the nation’s largest mortgage provider despite this lender having no physical locations — everything’s online. And their phone call and online chat service is good enough to have earned the company the top spot in J.D. Power’s Customer Satisfaction Study for 10 years.

    The website is easy to navigate, with a user-friendly interface to complete your application process. You’ll find a variety of mortgage loan options, including conventional loans, government-backed loans and refinancing options. Rocket Loans works quickly — borrowers can prequalify for a mortgage in just a few minutes. The company is also willing to loan to people with credit scores as low as 580.

    Best for first-time buyers – Guild Mortgage

    Guild Mortgage is the influencer of mortgage loans — it has some enticing #sponsored content. New homeowners will benefit from a partnership with Home Depot that could grant them a $2,000 gift card. New buyers and borrowers that qualify for home programs will get plenty of help securing a loan from Guild Mortgage.

    J.D. Power Rating
    4/5
    Min. Credit
    620
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    3.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Guild Mortgage 3.8
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 4
    Customer Satisfaction 4
    Product Variety 5
    Fees 2

    This lender really shines when it comes to helping people fund their first home purchase. Many of its mortgage offerings allow a lower down payment requirement (as little as 3%) than the standard 20% required. To sweeten the deal, Guild partners with Home Depot for its 3-2-1 home loan program where it rewards new buyers with a $2,000 gift card for the home improvement store. Most first-time owners are cash-strapped after buying a home. The gift card can help them get a jump start on customizing their home.

    Unfortunately, Guild Mortgage doesn’t make it easy to compare lenders. You won’t find its mortgage rates on its site, and the lender is reluctant to give you a ballpark unless you go through the application process, which requires a hard inquiry on your credit.

    Best VA loans – Navy Federal Credit Union

    Five-star service for the people who have served our country. Navy Federal has a wide variety of generous loan options. Flexible loan features can help save money for active or retired military and their families.

    J.D. Power Rating
    5/5
    Min. Credit
    Not Specified
    Min. Down Payment
    0%
    SimpleScore
    3.4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Navy Federal Credit Union 3.4
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 4
    Customer Satisfaction 5
    Product Variety 3
    Fees 1

    Navy Federal provides mortgage loans for military members (active and retired) and their families. The credit union has a no-down-payment loan option for members who cannot save the recommended 20% down payment. Plus, government-backed VA mortgage loan options don’t require private mortgage insurance, which can save borrowers money on their monthly payment and total loan cost. You can use its online calculator to get an idea of the mortgage rates you may be quoted for your particular purchase.

    Another feature unique to Navy Federal is the “Freedom Lock Option,” which guarantees that if interest rates drop within 60 days after you’ve locked in your rate, you can relock to the lowest one at no extra cost. With fluctuating interest rates, this feature can ensure you’ll have one of the best home mortgage interest rates possible.

    Best traditional lender – Chase

    Try Chase if you’re looking for a friendly face. The lender defaults to IRL communication and discounts current customers. As more lenders turn to online-only mortgage services, Chase stands apart with physical offices and in-person customer service.

    J.D. Power Rating
    3/5
    Min. Credit
    620
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    3.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Chase 3.8
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 4
    Customer Satisfaction 3
    Product Variety 5
    Fees 3

    Chase is one of the largest banks in the country and provides a wide range of mortgages, including conventional, government-backed and jumbo loans. If you’re a bit old school or are new to mortgage loans, you may prefer in-person assistance. Chase is one of the few lenders who focuses its services on local branch representatives.

    The bank doesn’t have industry-leading interest rates, but if you already bank with Chase, you may be able to get a discount on your home loan. Chase Private Clients with deposit or investment balances of $250,000 or more may receive a 0.0125% discount on their mortgage or refinance.

    Best for fast qualification and closing – USAA

    Simple service for those who’ve served in the military. USAA has a quick process and streamlined approval.

    J.D. Power Rating
    5/5
    Min. Credit
    620
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    3.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore USAA 3.8
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 3
    Customer Satisfaction 5
    Product Variety 4
    Fees 3

    USAA is another financial institution for military members and their families. If you qualify, USAA simplifies the process. The company has broken it down into four steps — get online pre-approval, find your home, work with a USAA loan officer to submit the application, receive status updates from your officer and then close. USAA claims all you need is a photo ID and a cashier’s check (or wire transfer) to pay the closing fees and down payment to get your keys.

    Apparently, the process pays off, since J.D. Power awarded it a 5/5 in its customer satisfaction study. You can estimate your loan amount and rates with the online calculator. USAA has traditional VA loans, jumbo loans and ARMs.

    Best for product variety – Truist

    SunTrust provides plenty of loan options and a robust online mortgage experience. The Baskin Robins of mortgage loans. While SunTrust doesn’t quite have 31 kinds of loans, it does have more than other lenders.

    J.D. Power Rating
    4/5
    Min. Credit
    620
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Truist 4
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 3
    Customer Satisfaction 4
    Product Variety 5
    Fees 4

    SunTrust, now known as Truist after a merger with BB&T, offers several different mortgage loan products for a wide range of borrowers. New and existing homeowners can learn more about the lending process by accessing SunTrust’s vast library of learning resources — which includes helpful videos and personalized educational resources for different kinds of homeownership (like first-time buyer, renovating, realtor builder, etc.)

    We found Suntrust had an extensive variety of mortgage types. You can choose a fixed-rate mortgage, ARM, FHA, VA, affordable financing options, USDA loans, jumbo loans or premier loans for professionals and entrepreneurs. The application and pre-approval process can be completed online and easy to follow. You will have to set up an account and start an application to get customized interest rates. A SunTrust mortgage advisor will then walk you through the more complicated parts.

    Best alternative lender – New American Funding

    An actual human will be reviewing your loan application, which leaves room for reading the nuances of a less-than-perfect application. New American Funding is ideal for non-traditional homebuyers who need a lender that will take into account their overall financial picture.

    J.D. Power Rating
    N/A
    Min. Credit
    500
    Min. Down Payment
    3%
    SimpleScore
    4 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore New American Funding 4
    Perks 4
    Credit Impact 4
    Customer Satisfaction N/A
    Product Variety 5
    Fees 3

    New American Funding is a California-based, family-owned business that services loans nationwide and is the only home lender on our list to have a 100% underwriting process.

    The manual underwriting process may seem intimidating, but what this means is that your loan application will be reviewed by a human and not lending software, so other factors about your financial history — aside from just your credit score — may be considered during the process. Borrowers who will benefit the most from a manual underwriting process are those who have a few blips on their credit history or are self-employed. Underwriters will be able to take into account factors that aren’t weighed as part of automated underwriting procedures.

    Survey: 30% of Americans think 2020 is an ideal time to buy a home

    To say the economy has been tough in 2020 would be an understatement. The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant damage to the job market, which has led to a record-breaking number of unemployment claims filed in recent months. And, as the months roll on, the hits from the COVID-19 pandemic just keep coming.

    Still, despite this year’s economic turmoil, a surprising number of Americans think that 2020 is an ideal time to make a property purchase. According to a recent survey by TheSimpleDollar, about 30% of the participants agreed that this is an ideal time to buy a home or property — and nearly 7 in 10 of those in agreement think that 2020 is the best time for them to purchase a house or property due to low mortgage interest rates (68%).

    So, if you want to ensure a smooth home purchase during this time, you should:

    • Clean up your finances. If you want to get approved for a loan right now, you’ll need to make sure your finances reflect that you can afford to pay it back. This means socking away some money into savings, paying off other loan or credit card balances and avoiding large or significant purchases in the time leading up to the loan application.
    • Pay close attention to your credit. You should pull copies of all three credit reports to go over before you apply for your mortgage. These reports are usually free to pull once a year at Annualcreditreport.com, but all three reports have been made available for free each week through April 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
    • Get preapproved. The best way to get an idea of your rates is to go through the preapproval process with a lender. This will give you an idea of where you, as a buyer, fall on the borrowing spectrum. You’ll need to have financial information on hand, but in many cases, you can complete the process fully online and receive an answer in 1-3 days or less.
    • Consider ways to be flexible. The reality of the current housing market is that in some markets — especially in larger metro areas — there are fewer houses for sale than the demand calls for. If you’re shopping in those areas, you’ll have to find ways to make concessions — and you may end up paying the full asking price or more than list price for the home if there’s a ton of competition. As more people aim to take advantage of the record-breaking interest rates, the more demand you’ll have for the homes on the market.

    Will mortgage rates go down?

    There are conflicting assumptions that mortgage rates will go down or skyrocket due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent market changes. Some experts expect rates to rise due to an increase in yields and the recent rush for mortgage-backed securities (MBS) — which are mortgages sold on a secondary market that are bought from banks and sold as investments.

    On the flip side, we’ve seen historical low mortgage rates during the pandemic have given homeowners a chance to refinance. In 2020, there has been an 84% rise in refinances compared to 2019.

    Furthermore, lenders are becoming stricter on borrower qualifications, which can lead to lower rates due to less borrower demand. Mortgage rates will also continue to drop as concern over economic stability continues.

    If you can qualify for a loan, the combination of refinancing, forbearance, unemployment and the hope that investors will see a return on their assets make it the perfect time for prospective borrowers to buy.

    Guide to understand how mortgages work

    What is a mortgage?

    A mortgage is the type of loan you use to purchase a house. Unless you have the cash to pay for a house upfront, you’ll need a mortgage. Even if you do have the cash to pay in full, it can be a good idea to use a mortgage loan instead for building good credit and freeing up the cash for other investments.

    How does a mortgage work?

    A mortgage is a secured loan, where the house you purchase with it is used as collateral. If you stop making payments, your home will go into foreclosure (when the lender claims that collateral.)

    Once you’ve chosen a lender, they’ll give you the amount of money agreed upon to purchase the home. You’ll then pay back the loan, with interest, in ongoing monthly payments. The exact amount you borrow will be determined by the fair market value of your home (calculated by an appraisal.)

    The full process for getting and using a mortgage loan can be broken down into eight steps:

    1. Submit an application. Apply for a loan with the lender you’ve chosen, either online or via phone. You’ll need to provide documentation about your income, assets and any debt.
    2. Get preapproval.The lender will give you an estimate of the amount of money you can borrow based on the information you provided
    3. Shop for a home and make an offer. Now that you have a budget, you can shop for your home and choose the one you’d like to buy.
    4. Order a home inspection.Once your offer is accepted, you’ll schedule a home inspection. The results of the inspection may allow you to negotiate the price, repairs or other contract details before closing.
    5. Purchase homeowners insurance. Lenders will require proof of homeowners insurance before the mortgage loan can reach final approval.
    6. Appraise the home. Your lender will then have your home appraised to ensure that the purchase price is aligned with the home value.
    7. Finalize your loan. You’ll finalize the amount, rate and terms of your mortgage loan.
    8. Close on the sale.You’ll pay your down payment, receive the loan money and finalize your home purchase. There will also be a lot of paperwork.

    Difference between interest rate vs. APR

    Interest rate is the percentage of interest charged on the borrowed money — the rate can be fixed or variable.

    APR is that same interest cost, but it also includes fees and other charges associated with the loan — origination fees, mortgage insurance, closing costs, discounts and broker fees. These fees are usually a percentage of your loan amount rather than a fixed number, so the APR is also expressed as a percentage.

    The APR is a better estimate of the total amount it will cost you to borrow money but the interest rate is what your monthly payment is based on (along with the principal balance.)

    How are mortgage rates calculated?

    Interest rates on a mortgage are determined by the current market, your financial profile and your down payment. Basically, the less of a financial risk the lender deems you, the lower your interest rate — specifically, your credit report and debt-to-income ratio. If you put more of a down payment on your house, that improves your debt-to-income ratio and can get you a better interest rate.

    There are two types of mortgage interest rates — fixed and adjustable. With a fixed-rate mortgage, the interest percentage stays the same for the entire time you repay the loan. For an adjustable-rate mortgage, the interest percentage will change based on the market. For most adjustable-rate mortgages, the first 5 to 10 years will have a fixed rate and then adjust based on the market once a year.

    What is the best mortgage loan term for me

    A loan term is the length of time you have to repay the loan. Most lenders will give you a few options for your mortgage loan terms, usually ranging between 10-30 years. Longer loan terms will mean lower monthly payments, but also higher interest rates and thus more interest paid overall.

    A shorter-term loan will have a much higher monthly payment, but a lower interest rate and less interest paid in the lifetime of the loan. You may save more in the long run with a shorter term, but the monthly payments on a longer loan term are often more affordable.

    A 30-year loan term is the most popular option, but there are pros and cons to the other mortgage terms, too. If you’re trying to pay off your home quickly, a 15-year mortgage loan will achieve that — and these loan terms often come with lower interest rates, which will help save you money. However, you’ll have to contend with higher payments because you’re paying the loan off in half the time that you normally would. So before you opt for a 15-year loan, make sure you can afford it now and in the future.

    There’s also the option of a 20-year mortgage loan. This loan term is a sweet spot between the 30- and 15-year mortgage loans. You’ll again have to contend with higher monthly payments, but they won’t be as high as they would with a 15-year loan. The only real caveat is that you need to make sure you can afford the payments. They’ll be significantly higher than they would with a longer mortgage term. You may not get a much lower interest rate with a 20-year loan, either. These rates can be lower than the rates with 30-year loans, but that isn’t always the case.

    The only way to know which loan term to choose is to weigh your priorities for your loan and do the math on what you can afford. If you can swing payments on a shorter loan term, you’ll save money in the long run on interest. If you can’t swing those higher payments, don’t try to force it. Otherwise, you could end up in dire straights financially — which could put you at risk of losing your home.

    Types of mortgages

    There are a few different types of mortgage loans you can choose from that have slightly different structures and come from different kinds of lenders.

    1. Conventional mortgages

    A conventional mortgage is the most common type of mortgage loan. It basically means the loan isn’t back or issued through a government agency.

    • Fixed-rate loans: The interest rate stays the same throughout the loan term. If you plan on staying in your home for a long time and don’t want to risk interest rate fluctuations or changes to your monthly mortgage payment, a conventional fixed-rate loan may be best.
    • Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM): Type of loan with a period of fixed low interest initially followed by years of fluctuating interest rates that can fall or rise depending on certain economic changes. ARM loans are best for buyers who are either a.) only planning to stay in their homes for a short period of time, or b.) don’t mind taking a risk on fluctuating interest rates.

    2. Government mortgages

    There are some mortgage loan options issued by the government. They will typically have specific eligibility requirements.

    • FHA: Federal Housing Association (FHA) loans are designed to help lower-income borrowers buy with a lower down payment (as low as 3.5% in some cases) or a credit score as low as 500.
    • VA: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans are available to veterans and may not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance depending on the lender.
    • USDA: U.S. Department of Agriculture loans (USDA) Provide no down payment loans to qualified homebuyers in designated rural areas.

    3. Nonconforming mortgages

    A nonconforming mortgage loan does not conform to the Federal National Mortgage Associated and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation purchasing guidelines. These loans will have higher interest rates. A mortgage may become noncomforming if it exceeds conforming loan limits or based on the borrower’s down payment, DTI, credit score and documentation requirements. For example, if a borrower has a DTI above 42% it may be considered a nonconforming loan.

    • Jumbo mortgage: This loan is beneficial when you need to finance a home that is more expensive than a conventional loan will allow for. For most of the country, a jumbo loan is needed for loans of $510,400 or higher, although more expensive areas have a higher baseline of $765,600.

    What percentage should I give as a down payment?

    Typically, the minimum down payment recommended is 20%. Some lenders will require you to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you put down less than that.

    The more money you put down, the lower your interest rate will be and the more money you’ll save in the long run. It’s best to save up a significant amount of money for a down payment before you begin the process of buying a house. On the other hand, you can get a house with as low as 5% down payment, you’ll just face larger interest rates and potentially a higher monthly payment.

    [Read: Why Do You Need a Down Payment, Anyway?]

    How much can I borrow for a mortgage?

    The maximum amount you can borrow for a mortgage will depend almost completely on your full financial picture. A lender’s job, in part, is to make sure you’re only approved for what you can realistically afford, so if you’re trying to buy a home that’s well out of the price range for your income, you’re not going to get approved. That’s a good thing, though — you don’t want to end up with late or missed payments. That can put your credit and your home at risk.

    That said, there are rules to the maximum amount you can borrow for certain types of loans. The maximum limit you can borrow for conventional and government-backed loans is set each year, and if you want to borrow more than that amount, you’ll need to take out a jumbo loan. Jumbo loans have much stricter credit and income requirements, so you may not qualify with a lower income or credit blips.

    In general, the conforming loan limit for 2020 is $510,400, which means that any amount over that will have to be borrowed with a jumbo loan. FHA loan limits for 2020, on the other hand, range from $331,760 to $765,600, but your particular maximum will depend on the area you live in and other factors. The best way to know your maximum is to talk to a lender about your unique situation. Otherwise, it’s anybody’s guess.

    What is a discount point?

    Discount points are basically a fee you pay to your lender that allows you to lower the interest rate on your loan. You can purchase these points if you want a lower interest rate but can’t qualify or rates just aren’t that low currently.

    In general, each discount point will cost you about 1% of the principal amount of your loan, so the cost for discount points can add up quickly — especially with larger loan amounts.

    You’ll need to do the math to figure out if discount points are worth the upfront costs. Each discount point you purchase lowers your loan’s interest rate by anywhere from 1/8 to 1/4 of a percent, so you may be paying more than you’re saving. Each situation is unique, though — and you won’t know whether the discount points make sense until you do the calculations with your loan rate and principal.

    How do I find the best mortgage rate?

    The key to finding the best mortgage rate is to shop around. Lenders offer a wide range of loan types and rates, and the only way to know what you qualify for is to compare the offers. Don’t discount smaller credit unions or online lenders, either — especially if you have a relationship with one currently. Credit unions are a great place to find super low mortgage rates, but they require you to be a member of the CU and you often need to build a relationship with them before they’ll offer those rates to you.

    You should also be sure to do your homework on your own finances. Getting the best mortgage rate also involves a solid financial profile. If you have credit or financial issues, you won’t be offered the lowest rates — no matter how much you shop around. So be sure to get your money ducks in a row before you apply for any loans.

    What are closing costs?

    Mortgage closing costs are any additional fees you pay for your home loan aside from the loan principal and interest. These one-time costs are usually a small percentage of the home’s price, and, on average, cost between 2% to 5% of the total loan.

    For example, if you’re interested in a $350,000 home, the closing costs would range from $7,000 to $17,500. The fees cover professionals and services needed to finalize your home buying process.

    These closing costs cover a few fees, including the home appraisal to assess the value of your new home and in some cases, a credit reporting fee to cover the cost of reviewing your credit. A home inspection fee is also required to check the condition of your home before close.

    Oftentimes, experts highly recommend negotiating lender service costs including application fees or any costs you don’t recognize. You can also ask about including some closing costs into your loan, but this choice may mean a higher interest rate.

    You won’t be able to negotiate some of the closing cost fees, including taxes or title insurance required by the lender, but there are a few fees you can lower or ask the buyer to cover. For example, the buyer and seller can split the attorney or escrow fees for the attorney to handle the funds and closing process, or one party may offer to cover it.

    Mortgage FAQ

    1. Work on your credit score: The better the score, the lower risk you will be to a lender, which will give you access to better interest rates.
    2. Take out a mortgage with your existing bank: While your bank may not offer the lowest interest rates, you may get lucky and be offered a special rate for being an existing customer.
    3. Shop for competitive rates: Work with a lender or broker who can watch interest rates on your behalf and let you know when they’re lower.

    Refinancing is when you replace your mortgage loan with a new one. This is often done after you’ve built up a better credit score and can qualify for lower interest rates or have a higher income and shorten your loan with higher monthly payments. By replacing the older loan, you can lower your monthly payments and the total cost you pay to borrow the money. When you’re ready to get to work you should use a mortgage calculator to help you understand closing costs based on your financial situation.

    When refinancing, you can also reduce the length of your loan and remove private mortgage interest. You may also want to refinance to change your loan from an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate mortgage depending on the interest rate you’re currently paying.

    While you’re looking for the best possible mortgage rate and mortgage type, take into consideration the different types of mortgage lenders on the marketplace today. While you shouldn’t find anything drastically different between lenders, the details are still important. We’ve narrowed mortgage lenders into three categories:

    Banks

    This category includes mortgage bankers that work for the major banking institutions (Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc.). Mortgage bankers can provide direct links between lenders and the organizations that provide the capital for their mortgage.

    There’s more security in using a mortgage banker, and if you already have a good history with the bank, you might be able to obtain a lower interest rate than on the marketplace.

    Brokers

    Mortgage brokers are essentially middlemen between borrowers and lenders. Using a broker means that you’ll have more access to competitive repayment terms and interest rates outside of specific financial institutions.

    Credit Unions

    Credit unions can be an appealing choice for anyone looking to find a mortgage with average to bad credit. They tend to operate as nonprofits and tend to keep loans in-house as opposed to utilizing third parties.

    Non-bank Lenders

    Non-bank lenders, such as Quicken Loans, specialize in mortgages and don’t offer other traditional consumer banking services. They represent a fast-growing segment of the mortgage market.

    Ask the Experts

    Chane Steiner

    CEO, credible.com

    Dennis Shirshikov

    Writer, fitsmallbusiness.com

    Eric Jeanette

    Owner, dreamhomefinancing.com

    Andrina Valdes

    Executive Sales Leader & COO, houseloan.com

    Helen Chen-Tournay

    Financial Consultant, mamabearfinance.com

    Scott Lindner

    National Sales Director for Mortgage Lending , td.com

    John Bush

    Financial Planner,

    What’s your advice to people who have lower credit and are applying for a mortgage?

    If people have lower credit and are applying for a mortgage, my advice would be to take your time shopping around. With a lower credit score, it might seem like there are no low-interest or affordable options for you. This isn’t really the case, however, you might have to look a bit harder, you can find a lender that works for you and your financial situation.

    What would be your advice to folks who have no credit history and are applying for a mortgage?

    If you’re applying for a mortgage without any credit history, I would advise looking towards some non-traditional credit history options, such as rent and student loan payments. Even without a formal credit history, you can still use these payments to show lenders you have a good history and you’re capable of paying them on time consistently.

    What do you think people’s biggest pain point is when getting a mortgage? What tips would you offer those people?

    I would say people’s biggest pain point when getting a mortgage is feeling overwhelmed. When shopping for a mortgage, it can be incredibly difficult to pick a lender when there’s so many options, and there’s so much you have to think about and consider.

    My advice to these people would be to take your time. There’s no harm in taking this decision-making process slowly, and carefully weighing your options. One great strategy is to do a side-by-side comparison between multiple different lenders and mortgage plans, so you can easily see which one will work best for you.

    We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the mortgage lenders we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

    The impact of COVID-19 on your mortgage rates

    The real estate market is changing. To stimulate the economy, the Federal Reserve made two mortgage rate cuts in March and another one in February, setting a federal fund rate to a range of 0% to 0.25%.

    Today rates on fixed-rate mortgages are at a record low. People shopping for new homes should consider that although lower rates boost mortgage financing, the supply is limited and hard to lock down. Those who can reach a deal and lock in the current interest rate can look into lender’s options for seven-day locks, which can reduce borrowing costs.

    Lenders and banks like Bank of America and Navy Federal Credit Union are also offering hardship forbearance to borrowers facing financial troubles due to COVID-19. And although forbearance isn’t forgiveness, the temporary basis has helped close to 4 million American borrowers as of May.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    We’ve created the SimpleScore to help you objectively compare products and services here at The Simple Dollar.

    Our editorial team:

    • Identifies five factors to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each factor
    • Calculate an average of those five factor scores to get one SimpleScore

    We break down each of these five factors and their rating criteria for our review of the best mortgage companies.

    Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

    Some brands like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase have different SimpleScores because they offer more than one financial solution — like home loans, auto loans, personal loans and more.

    For instance, in our Bank of America Mortgage Review, we give the company a 3.8 out 5 based on our five rating factors for mortgages. In our Bank of America Auto Loans Review, we give the company a 4.4 out of 5 based on our rating factors for auto loans. By tailoring our SimpleScore to each financial solution, we’re able to give you a more accurate view of a brand’s services and how it compares to competitors’ services.

    Perks

    Mortgage lending companies that provide more perks receive a higher score from us.

    Hard/Soft credit checks

    We know that credit checks affect your score –– that’s why we favor companies that offer soft credit checks or hard credit checks when you want to see your pre-approval rates.

    Customer satisfaction

    We use the J.D. Power 2019 Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study℠ to find out how customers rate their experience with each company. (If a company is not included in J.D. Power’s study, we skip this rating factor and average the remaining factor scores.)

    Product variety

    Mortgage lenders that offer more products for their home loans are given higher scores.

    Fees

    Fees can add up fast. Companies that don’t require as many fees for your home loan receive a higher score with us.

    Danika Miller

    Personal Finance Reporter

    Danika Miller is a writer at The Simple Dollar. Her work can be found on Reviews.com, Freshome.com, Her Campus, and Jeopardy Magazine. She holds a bachelor’s degree in creative and technical writing from Western Washington University.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.