How to Find the Best Mortgage Rates in 2019

Advertiser Disclosure

While mortgage rates peaked in November 2018, the average rate on a 30-year mortgage has decreased again — down to 3.93% as of July 2019. That’s great if you’re a home buyer. With home prices still increasing and some homeowner-friendly tax deductions disappearing under the new tax rules, it’s never been more important to find the best mortgage rates and the lowest mortgage rates when buying a home.

To find the best mortgage rates in your area, use our rate comparison tool below:

Mortgage Rate Comparison Tool

The best mortgage rates start with the best mortgage lenders.

There are a lot of mortgage lenders out there, many of which might be a good fit for you, depending on where you live, what kind of loan you’re seeking, and what your unique situation is. (If there was one perfect lender for everybody, every other one would have gone out of business by now, and your choice would be easy.)

But as you begin your research and comparison shopping, our list of the best mortgage lenders below provides a good starting point. These are some of the biggest and most reputable mortgage lenders in the industry, and their websites make it easy to find their best mortgage rates.

A note about mortgage points: One way to get the best mortgage rates is to pay “points,” or upfront interest paid to the bank that secures a lower long-term interest rate on your home loan. One point generally costs 1% of the total loan amount, so paying 1 point on a $200,000 mortgage would add $2,000 in upfront costs. For each lender, we’ve included quoted mortgage rates with points, as well as the annual percentage rate (APR), which factors in other costs of the loan.

Quicken Loans

Average mortgage rates as of July 2019:

Mortgage Type Interest Rate Points APR
30-year fixed 3.875% 2.25 4.158%
15-year fixed 3.375% 2.125 3.851%
5-year ARM 3.75% 3.125 4.589%
30-year fixed FHA 3.49% 2.125 4.472%

Pros: This is the largest online mortgage lender in the country, so they obviously know what they’re doing. Quicken Loans is known for very fast processing and excellent customer service ratings (five out of five rating with J.D. Power). They offer many different kinds of loans, including FHA loans, VA loans, USDA loans, and, of course, conventional mortgages, so they can also offer some of the lowest mortgage rates compared to other lenders.

Cons: There is no Quicken Loans office you can go to where you can look somebody in the eye and shake their hand. It’s all done online. For many people, that’s not a negative; that’s just the way of the world. Others may find it unsettling. After all, this is a house you’re buying, one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make.

Bank of America

Average mortgage rates as of July 2019 (check latest rates):

Mortgage Type Interest Rate Points APR
30-year fixed 3.625% 0.709 3.813%
15-year fixed 3.000% 0.687 3.329%
5-year ARM 2.875% 0.913 4.042%
10-year ARM 3.375% 0.836 3.956%

Pros: It has some incredible name recognition: If you aren’t happy with them, you’ll know where they live — they’re in all 50 states. In other words, this isn’t some fly-by-night organization. Other than USDA loans, they offer all kinds of home loans. Bank of America has a very polished online presence; you can apply online for a home loan and submit your documents through its Home Loan Navigator. If you’re enrolled in the bank’s Preferred Rewards program, you may be able to get $200 to $600 taken off your origination fees.

Cons: Nothing major, unless you really need a USDA loan. Customer service could be better, however, with a 3 out of 5 rating from J.D. Power.

Wells Fargo

Average mortgage rates as of July 2019 (check latest rates):

Mortgage Type Interest Rate Points APR
30-year fixed 3.875% 0-0.5 3.968%
15-year fixed 3.125% 0-0.5 3.324%
5-year ARM 3.375% 0-0.5 4.138%

Pros: Wells Fargo has loan programs to help first-time home buyers through the buying process. They often accept down payments as low as 3% on fixed-rated mortgages through its Your First Mortgage program. This can be a given that many lenders want a 20% down payment. Wells Fargo also has incredible name recognition.

Cons: That name recognition is also a negative for Wells Fargo. As you’ve likely heard, Wells Fargo has come through some scandals of late, including one in which the bank settled with all 50 states for a total of $575 million. Before that settlement, Wells Fargo was accused of overcharging 250,000 customers for mortgage appraisals. That could give any potential homeowner pause.

USAA Mortgage

Average mortgage rates as of July 2019 (check latest rates):

Mortgage Type Interest Rate Points APR
30-year fixed 3.750% 1.125 3.923%
30-year jumbo 3.750% 1.125 3.877%
30-year VA loan 3.375% 1.000 3.664%
30-year VA jumbo loan 3.500% 0.875 3.769%

Pros: USAA is a highly respected financial services institution for members of the military and their family members, and routinely ranks among the best in customer satisfaction. Given its military connection, if you want a VA loan, this is the place to go. USAA can offer some of the lowest mortgage rates to its members because of its VA backing.

Cons: USAA is only available to members of the military, veterans, and their families. It also doesn’t offer FHA or USDA loans.

Suntrust Mortgage

Average mortgage rates as of July 2019 (check latest rates):

Mortgage Type Interest Rate Points APR
30-year fixed 3.875% 0.694 3.995%
15-year fixed 3.100% 0.901 3.3405%
5-year ARM 3.600% 0.884 4.2344%
FHA 30-year fixed 3.300% 0.884 4.4288%

Pros: This well-respected lender is part of SunTrust Bank, which has been around since 1927. SunTrust offers a wide variety of loans and terms and will work with customers who don’t have the conventional 20% down payment or excellent credit.  You’ll need at least a 620 credit score for most of its loans. They don’t make you pay a lot of points upfront to nab a good rate either.

Cons: Brick and mortar locations are mostly in the southeast, so if you don’t live in the region, you’ll have to go through the process online or over the phone.

Current Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates change, every day, but at the time of this writing, here are the average rates on the most common types of home loans nationwide, according to Bankrate:

Mortgage Type Interest Rate
30-year fixed: 3.93%
15-year fixed: 3.29%
5/1 ARM: 3.71%
30-year jumbo: 3.84%

The lower the mortgage rate you can lock in, the lower your payment will be each month, and the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of your loan. The rates above are just national averages, and multiple factors can affect your mortgage rate, including the type of loan, your credit score, and your down payment.

Don’t forget about mortgage disclosure rules.

Lenders are required by law to provide a Loan Estimate — a document that outlines your potential loan’s terms and costs — within three business days of your loan application. Use this estimate to make a better apples-to-apples comparison of your options.

Tips to Get the Lowest Mortgage Rate

1. Polish your credit score.

It’s simple. Your credit score tells lenders how responsible you are with your finances, so the higher your score, the better your chances of securing the lowest mortgage rate possible. Improving your credit score takes time. There are some shortcuts that can give your credit score a quick, if modest, boost, but the benefits to your financial health can be huge in your search for the best mortgage rate. A 100-point difference in your credit score can save you hundreds of dollars per month on the same mortgage and tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

2. Beef up your down payment.

Saving up for a 20% down payment (that’s what we recommend) can be difficult, but it’s one of the most influential factors in getting the lowest mortgage rate and saving you a lot of money down the road. It’s not just the lower rate that will save you money. If you can put down 20% or more, you won’t have to pay extra mortgage insurance.

3. Consider how long you’ll be in your home.

If you don’t plan on living in your new home for more than a few years, an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) can get you the lowest mortgage rate available. Adjustable-rate mortgages generally have low, fixed initial interest rates for the first several years (typically the first five, seven, or 10 years), then adjust to the current market rate every year afterward. While your rate (and with it, your monthly mortgage payment) could potentially increase dramatically down the road, homeowners who don’t plan to stay in their home longer than the introductory period can take advantage of those low rates.

If ARMs seem like too much of a risk to you, look into a shorter-term fixed-rate mortgage. Your monthly payments will be higher, but you’ll get one of the lowest interest rates, pay much less over the life of the loan, and build equity in your home faster.

Tips for Finding the Best Mortgage Lenders

Here are three tips that will help you find lenders not only with the best home loan rates, but those with seamless customer support too.

1. Do your homework.

Reading through comments sections isn’t a bad idea, but you should probably take those experiences with a grain of salt. We recommend balancing out your research with insight from a recognized leader like J.D. Power and Associates. Its 2018 annual mortgage lender customer-satisfaction survey found Quicken Loans had the most satisfied customers for the fifth year in a row, followed closely by other industry heavyweights like TD Bank, USAA, SunTrust Mortgage, and Capital One.

2. Ask friends and family about their experiences.

Local lenders might not have a helpful presence on the web, so asking around can be crucial in helping you find the best mortgage companies in your area. Conduct a quick survey of your family and friends, particularly if they’ve recently purchased or refinanced a home. Ask whether they felt they understood the lending process and whether their agent was responsive and courteous.

3. Take note of how you’re initially treated.

Your mortgage might be the most significant financial transaction of your life, and you should feel comfortable with your lender. If you call for information and don’t receive it quickly, consider that a red flag. Any lender who is unwilling or unable to answer your questions — or acts like it’s an inconvenience to do so — will probably be less than pleasant to deal with further down the line.

Common Types of Mortgages

A 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment isn’t the only way to finance a home purchase. Before you pull the trigger, consider a few of the most common types of mortgages and determine which one could offer you the most benefit.

What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) is the most common type of home loan. One of the main benefits is that even though the proportion of principal versus interest on your bill will change over the course of the loan, you’ll still pay the same amount every month. Your interest rate is locked in when you close on the loan, so you aren’t vulnerable to sudden increases in interest rates.

Of course, while you aren’t vulnerable to interest-rate increases, you’ll lose out if rates decline — you’ll be stuck paying the higher rate unless you can refinance. It can also be harder to qualify for a fixed-rate mortgage if your credit score is less than stellar.

Fixed-rate mortgages are offered for 10-, 15- or 30-year terms, with the latter being the most popular choice. Longer terms mean lower payments, but they also mean it will take longer to build equity in your home. You’ll also pay more interest over the life of the loan.

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage?

ARMs make buying a home more accessible by offering lower initial interest rates and payments. The interest rate remains constant for a certain period of time — generally, the shorter the period, the better the rate — then it can rise or fall, depending on market factors.  Generally, ARMs offer the lowest mortgage rates available for home loans.

The main downside is obvious: If your ARM begins to adjust when interest rates are rising, your escalating payments could start to squeeze your budget. It can also make annual budgeting tricky, and if you want to refinance with a fixed-rate loan, the cost can be quite steep. Ultimately, with an ARM, you’re accepting some of the risk that your mortgage lender would absorb with a fixed-rate loan.

There are several kinds of ARMs. One-year ARMs typically offer the lowest mortgage rates, but they’re also the riskiest because your interest rate adjusts every year. At slightly higher rates, hybrid ARMs offer an extended initial fixed-rate period. Common hybrid loans include 5/1 mortgages, which offer a fixed rate for five years and then and an annually adjustable rate for the next 25 years.

What is an FHA loan?

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are government-backed mortgages that require much smaller down payments than their conventional counterparts. In fact, you may qualify for an FHA loan with as little as 3.5% down, but you’ll likely be on the hook for mortgage insurance each month in order to help the lender blunt some of the risk. These loans are ideal for those who can’t afford a huge down payment, and may not have a great credit score, but have a steady income.

What is a VA loan?

VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) loans are also government-backed mortgages available with low (or even no) down-payment options, and they don’t require the mortgage insurance that FHA loans do. However, the VA typically charges a one-time funding fee that varies according to down payment. You must have a military affiliation to get a loan — active-duty members, veterans, guard members, reservists, and certain spouses may qualify.

More Mortgage FAQs

What are closing costs?

With any loan, the moment you complete the process and receive your money is known as “closing,” or “settling.” When you close a loan, there are additional fees charged by the lender and any other parties involved to finalize the process. These are known as “closing costs.”

Mortgages are complex, with multiple parties involved. As a result, closing costs of your mortgage are likely to cost thousands of dollars. But they’re a necessary step in receiving the financing for your house.

Here are some of the possible fees that go into closing costs:

  • Taxes
  • Prepaid interest
  • Title deed transfer fees
  • Real estate agent fees
  • Property surveys/appraisal costs
  • Homeowners association fees
  • Legal fees
  • Fees for purchasing interest points to lower your rate

Can I lower my closing costs?

Yes. Luckily, there are ways to lower your closing costs.

Some methods, such as forgoing an attorney, might end up costing you more in the long run. But others won’t come with any cost at all:

  • Shop around: Even if you have average to poor credit, you need to do your homework before selecting a lender. Some may offer low closing costs, as well as more favorable rates.
  • Close near the end of the month: You prepay interest from the day you close to the end of the current month. Closing on April 27 means you prepay interest for three days, while closing on April 15 means you’ll prepay for 15.
  • Know your fees: Mortgage lenders may pad their loans with a number of unnecessary fees, which can cost hundreds of dollars.

What is a good interest rate for a mortgage?

The Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Survey says the average rate for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage in July 2019 is 3.75% with 0.5 fees/points.

First-time buyers with a low down payment can expect to pay a bit more for their mortgages; meanwhile, if you’re able to pay some interest upfront in the form of points, you can get that average rate down even lower.

How does your credit score affect your mortgage?

Your credit score is the metric lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. A lower credit score means you’re considered a higher risk for default, so you won’t nab as low of a mortgage rate as someone with excellent credit.

There are two primary types of credit scores: FICO and VantageScore. Their ranges vary slightly, but a credit score of 700 or above is considered good for both. Check out our guide for several smart ways to improve your credit score, which can also help you secure the lowest mortgage rate.

What is a lock period, and how will it affect my mortgage rate?

A mortgage rate lock period is an agreement between lender and borrower to prevent an interest rate from going up or down during a predetermined amount of time.

Usually, mortgage lock periods (also known as mortgage lock-ins) are designed to protect both lender and borrower from fluctuations in the economy while the mortgage is processed.

Often, lock-ins only last for about 30 to 60 days. Once that period is up, you can ask the lender to extend the lock, but there are a few downsides: Locks tend to come with a 1-point increase in your rate, and there can be additional lock fees. The longer the lock, the higher the fee will be.

But if you’re looking to avoid last-minute budget issues, or lock a refinancing loan, a lock period can be a powerful tool in your arsenal.

Why is my monthly mortgage payment higher than I expected?

Your monthly mortgage payment is comprised of four parts:

  • Principal
  • Interest
  • Taxes
  • Insurance

Principal is the original amount borrowed, and interest is what you pay for the privilege of borrowing that money. However, local property taxes and homeowners insurance are also lumped into your mortgage payment. A portion of your monthly payment typically goes into an escrow account, from which your lender pays those bills on your behalf.

What is escrow, and will it affect my mortgage?

When borrowers take out a mortgage, lenders often require them to pay into an escrow account. Lenders control the escrow account, and use it to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance on the borrower’s behalf. Each month, borrowers pay down principal and interest, while contributing to the escrow account.

If you place a down payment of 20% or more, your lender may choose to waive the escrow account. If they do, you can choose to pay your taxes and insurance yourself. Your lender may offer a lower interest rate if you choose to establish an escrow account, however.

Other lenders may require you to pay into an escrow account, which may or may not affect your interest rate. If your lender requires an escrow, they must follow the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s rules on maintaining escrow accounts.

An escrow may not affect your interest rate and will not change the type of mortgage. Since the tax and insurance rates are variable, it’s possible the amount you pay into escrow can change from month to month or year to year, even if you have a fixed-rate mortgage.

If you are unable to make a down payment of at least 20%, lenders may add private mortgage insurance (see “What is private mortgage insurance?” below) to your escrow payments.

Your location also affects monthly escrow payments. If you live in an area prone to flooding or fires, for example, your insurance payments may be higher. Your escrow will increase as a result.

How can I get pre-approved for a mortgage?

When you’re pre-approved for a mortgage or other home loan, it means a potential lender or underwriter has looked at your financial history and they’re confident in your ability to repay the loan.

Typically, lenders examine your credit score, current debt vs. income, pay stubs, and tax history, but the process always varies from lender to lender.

How can I prepare?

In order to have the best chance at pre-approval, as well as the most favorable rates, you need to have and maintain a good to excellent credit score. Always be sure to pay your bills on time and consistently, and never borrow more money than you need.

Additionally, lending advisers or brokers will ask for some basic financial information, including about your savings, debts, employment history, etc. Be sure to have all that information handy.

What’s the process like?

There are generally three steps when it comes to mortgage preapproval: Prequalification, pre-approval, and commitment.

  • Prequalification: During prequalification, a potential lender assesses your financial history and determines what loans you might qualify for — this is in no way a commitment for either party.
  • Pre-approval: In pre-approval, things get a bit more serious. Lenders are actively underwriting your finances to determine the exact type of mortgage they’re willing to offer. Here, you’re required to provide tax returns, pay stubs, and allow a hard pull on your credit report.
  • Approval: By this point, your banker, broker, or credit union will have made an official offer. It’s up to you whether or not you want to proceed.

We do recommend shopping around — but with no more than three mortgage lenders. Because the pre-approval process requires a hard credit pull, as opposed to a soft pull, your score is likely to drop.

What is private mortgage insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance designed to cover the lender should you default on your mortgage. You may have to pay PMI if you take out a conventional mortgage and make a down payment of less than 20%. You may also have to pay PMI if you refinance with less than 20% equity in your home.

PMI generally costs between 0.5% to 1% of your mortgage per year. You can pay a monthly premium, pay a one-time premium upfront at closing, or pay with a combination of the two. At first glance, 0.5% to 1% of your mortgage doesn’t sound like a lot. But assuming a mortgage of $250,000, and you’re looking at about $100 to $200 in added costs each month:

Mortgage 0.5% 1%
$250,000 $1,250 $2,500

The good news is that you can remove PMI once you build up enough equity. When you have paid down the mortgage balance to 80% of your home’s original appraised value, you can submit a written request asking your lender to cancel PMI coverage. Once the balance reaches 78%, mortgage lenders and servicers are required to cancel PMI automatically.

What are piggyback mortgages?

If you’re unable to make that 20% down payment but still want to purchase a home without paying PMI, there is an alternative.

A piggyback mortgage is also known as an 80-10-10 mortgage.It involves taking out one mortgage for 80% of the home’s value and piggyback another for 10% of the home’s value. The result leaves you with a 10% down payment on your original mortgage.

Bear in mind that the piggyback mortgage strategy has drawbacks and risks. For example, taking out two mortgages means paying closing costs twice. Also, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate on the second mortgage.

Comparing Different Types of Mortgage Lenders

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 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 are essentially banking institutions brought back to the basics — and their mortgages reflect that. Mortgage rates through a credit union tend to offer lower rates than either bankers or brokers. (This is because credit unions are owned by account holders, as opposed to separate investors.)

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.

Nonbank Lenders

Nonbank 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.

Find the best mortgage rate for you

No matter what type of mortgage you’re considering, comparison shopping is the only way to find the best mortgage rates for yourself. Now that you know more about how to find the best home loan rates, you can put that knowledge to work by trying the rate comparison tool below.