To buy a house just a few weeks ago you might have locked in a mortgage at 3.5 percent, but rates may never be that low again.
"If you are either in the market to buy a house or you've been on the fence about refinancing, I would say do no wait," Gerri Detweiler, Director of Consumer Education at Credit.com, said.
Mortgage rates are still historically low, but now rates have taken a sudden move higher—up more than half a percentage point in six weeks. Ironically, an improving economy is to blame.
"The rates went up very dramatically, they went up very quickly," Bob Moulton, President of Americana Mortgage Group, said. "Unemployment is down, the stock market is doing really well, median home prices are up. People are feeling better and they're out there buying again. So the economy does well, you will see a rising rate environment."
With the rates increasing, you could definitely feel it in your paycheck. At 3.5 percent, on a $250,000 home with 20 percent down, you pay about $898 per month. The same 30-year mortgage will cost you $954 at 4 percent-- $56 more a month, $672 per year. Down payment, credit score and income determine the rate you will pay.
"Borrowers that are getting the best rate are putting 20- 25 percent down, they have income that is documentable, so they're providing W2's and federal tax returns, and they have an excellent credit score, something over 700 or 720," Moulton said.
A quick closing date also helps, too.
"You get your best rate from a lender if you lock in for 30 days. Standard to lock in for 60 days and the longer you go out the more expensive it will be," Moulton said.
Here are some mortgage tips from experts: ask your lender about a "float-down provision"—so your rate could be adjusted lower if rates do slip again. If you're still looking for the right house, make sure you're pre-approved for a mortgage, and pay down your debt while interest rates on auto loans and credit cards are still low.
"This is the time to take advantage of those rates," Gerri Detweiler, Director of Consumer Education at Credit.com, said. "It means be as aggressive as you can about paying down your debt because once they start to rise there won't be a stop.
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