Today's mortgage and refinance rates: March 18, 2021 | Rates jump

Today's mortgage and refinance rates: March 18, 2021 | Rates jump

March 18, 2021

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All mortgage and refinance rates have gone up since last week, with mortgage rates for 10/1 ARMs increasing the most substantially. With the sole exception of refinance rates for 7/1 ARMs, mortgage and refinance rates are also up since last month. However, rates are still at historic lows. 

You might want to aim for a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage if you want to buy a home or refinance. Especially recently, fixed-rate mortgages are often a better deal than adjustable-rate mortgages because ARM rates start higher, and there’s the possibility of a rate increase in the future. 

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Today’s mortgage rates: Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mortgage typeAverage rate todayAverage rate last weekAverage rate last month
15-year fixed2.61%2.56%2.44%
30-year fixed3.53%3.46%3.26%
7/1 ARM4.69%4.55%4.44%
10/1 ARM4.59%4.32%4.12%

Rates from

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Since last week, all mortgage rates have gone up, with rates on fixed mortgages increasing by a smidge. Rates on 10/1 ARMs have increased by 47 basis points since last month. 

We’re showing you the average rates nationwide for conventional mortgages, which may be what you think of as “standard mortgages.” You may qualify for a better rate with a government-backed mortgage through the FHA, VA, or USDA.

Today’s refinance rates: Thursday, March 18, 2021

Mortgage typeAverage rate todayAverage rate last weekAverage rate last month
15-year fixed2.94%2.87%2.71%
30-year fixed3.84%3.78%3.68%
7/1 ARM4.91%4.84%4.99%
10/1 ARM4.89%4.8%4.69%

Rates from

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Since last Thursday, refinance rates for both fixed and adjustable mortgages have climbed. All rates are also up from this point last month.

In general, refinance rates remain at striking lows. Low rates are often an indicator of a struggling economy. As the US continues to be impacted economically by the COVID-19 pandemic, rates will probably remain low.

Tips to obtain a low mortgage rate

All fixed and adjustable mortgage rates have risen since last week. Still, they remain at all-time lows and you may want to secure a low rate while you can. 

On the other hand, you shouldn’t be too worried about a rate increase anytime shortly. Rates will likely remain low well into 2021, if not longer, so you don’t need to rush to get a mortgage or refinance. You have the chance to boost your financial profile and get a better rate.

To lock in the lowest rate, consider some of the following steps before applying:

  • Boost your credit score by making timely payments or paying down debt. You can request a copy of your credit report to look for any mistakes that could be tanking your score.
  • Save more for a down paymentThe minimum down payment you’ll need will be contingent on which type of mortgage you are after. But if you can put down more than the minimum required of you, you’ll likely get an improved rate.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount you pay toward debts each month, divided by your gross monthly income. To improve your ratio, pay down debts or look for ways to increase your income. 
  • Choose a government-backed mortgage. You might consider a USDA loan (aimed at low-to-moderate-income borrowers buying in a rural area), a VA loan (designed for military members and veterans), or an FHA loan (not designated for any particular group). These mortgages often come with lower interest rates than conventional mortgages. Additionally, down payments aren’t required for USDA or VA loans.

You can lock in a low rate today if your finances are ready, but there’s no need to hurry to get a mortgage or refinance.  

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How do 15-year fixed mortgages work?

With a 15-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your mortgage over a decade and a half, and you’ll pay a locked-in interest rate the whole term. 

You’ll fork over more per month with a 15-year fixed mortgage than a 30-year fixed mortgage because you’re paying the same mortgage principal over less time. 

However, a 15-year term will cost less than a longer term. You’ll pay off your mortgage in half the time and you’ll get a lower interest rate as well. 

How do 30-year fixed mortgages work?

If you take out a 30-year fixed mortgage, it will take you three decades to pay down your mortgage, and your interest rate will stay constant for the entire term. A 30-year fixed mortgage comes with a higher interest rate than a shorter term.

In the long run, you’ll pay more total interest with a 30-year term than a 15-year term because you’re paying a higher interest rate for more years.

On the plus side, you’ll make smaller monthly payments with a 30-year term than with a shorter term because you’re dividing up your payments over an extended amount of time.

How do ARMs work?

An adjustable-rate mortgage, commonly known as an ARM, will lock in your rate for several years. Then your rate will fluctuate regularly. A 10/1 ARM keeps your rate the same for a decade, then your rate will change once per year.

You might still prefer a fixed-rate mortgage, even though ARM rates are at all-time lows. You can lock in a low rate for 15 or 30 years without chancing an ARM rate increase down the line.

If you’re considering getting an ARM, ask your lender what your rates would be if you chose a fixed-rate versus an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Ensure you’re in a good financial situation before getting a mortgage or refinancing. You still have time to rectify your financial portfolio, as rates will likely stay low for a while. 

Mortgage and refinance rates by state

Check the latest rates in your state at the links below. 

New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Washington DC
West Virginia

Ryan Wangman is a reviews fellow at Personal Finance Insider reporting on mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. In his past experience writing about personal finance, he has written about credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

Laura Grace Tarpley is the associate editor of banking and mortgages at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, and bank reviews. She is also a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF). Over her four years of covering personal finance, she has written extensively about ways to save, invest, and navigate loans.

See the mortgage rates for Thursday, March 18 »

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