Today's mortgage and refinance rates: September 26, 2021 | Rates start moving

By Laura Grace Tarpley, CEPF

For the first time in a while, we're seeing average rates for fixed-rate loans rise, while average rates for adjustable-rate loans are dropping. Note that neither is an especially dramatic change — it's only by a few basis points in either direction — but after months of pretty steady numbers, it's a noteworthy pattern.

That said, fixed rates remain lower than ARM (adjustable-rate mortgages).

Current mortgage rates

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Current refinance rates

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

How mortgage rates have changed

Mortgage rate trends

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Refinance rate trends

Conventional rates from; government-backed rates from RedVentures.

Frequently asked questions

What is a mortgage rate?

A mortgage interest rate is a fee for borrowing money from a lender, expressed as a percentage. For example, you may take out a mortgage for $200,000 with an interest rate of 2.75%. You'll repay interest along with the amount you borrow, so you'll pay back more than $200,000.

How are mortgage rates determined?

In general, mortgage rates tend to be high when the US economy is thriving and low when it is struggling. Mortgage rates have been at all-time lows as the coronavirus pandemic impacts the country.

There are factors you can control, though. The stronger your finances are, the lower your rate will probably be. You can secure a better rate with a good credit score, low debt-to-income ratio, and substantial down payment.

How do I find personalized mortgage rates?

Some mortgage lenders let you customize your mortgage rate on their websites by entering your down payment amount, zip code, and credit score. The resulting rate isn't set in stone, but it can give you an idea of what you'll pay.

If you're ready to start shopping for homes, you may apply for preapproval with a lender. The lender does a hard credit pull and looks at the details of your finances to lock in a mortgage rate.

How do I compare mortgage rates between lenders?

You can apply for prequalification with multiple lenders. A lender takes a general look at your finances and gives you an estimate of the rate you'll pay.

If you're farther along in the homebuying process, you have the option to apply for preapproval with several lenders, not just one company. Your mortgage rate is locked in for a set amount of time when you are preapproved. By receiving letters from more than one lender, you can compare personalized rates.

Applying for preapproval requires a hard credit pull. Try to apply with multiple lenders within a few weeks, because lumping all of your hard credit pulls into the same chunk of time will hurt your credit score less.

When should I lock in a mortgage rate?

You'll probably want to apply for preapproval and lock in a rate once you are ready to actively shop for homes. Most lenders lock in your rate for 60 to 90 days when they preapprove you.