Both prospective homebuyers and homeowners who are interested in refinancing should frequently check mortgage rates. In both cases, reviewing mortgage rates can be beneficial.
What mortgage rates mean to homebuyers
For homebuyers, a lower interest rate on a home loan can make a big difference in affordability. If you need to borrow $200,000, for example, and you want a 30-year fixed-rate loan, you will pay $1,074 at 5 percent and $1,264 at 6.5 percent. If you are on the borderline of being able to qualify for a loan, a higher interest rate might mean you will be unable to borrow as much as you need to buy the home you want.
In addition, at a higher interest rate you will pay more interest over the life of the loan.
What mortgage rates mean to homeowners
If you are considering a refinance, checking on today's mortgage rates is extremely important, particularly if you are refinancing in order to reduce your monthly payments. If the mortgage rate is not lower than your current rate or the difference is insignificant, it may not make sense to refinance. Crunching your numbers through HSH.com's Refinance Calculator is a great way to determine not only if a refinance is right for you, but also the best way to finance it.
Where to find mortgage rates
The easiest place to locate today's mortgage rates is on HSH.com. The site offers a weekly round-up of average interest rates for a variety of loan products such as a 30-year fixed-rate, a 15-year fixed-rate and several adjustable-rate loans.
In addition to average rates from HSH's editorial surveys, you can find advertised rates in your area and historic mortgage rates (compare today's rates with long-term trends).
Michele Lerner contributed to this answer.
A 25-year expert observer of the mortgage and consumer debt markets, Keith Gumbinger has been cited in thousands of articles covering a wide range of consumer finance and economic topics in outlets ranging from the Wall Street Journal to the Bottom Line newsletters. He has been a featured guest on national broadcasts for CNN, CNBC, ABC, CBS and NBC television networks and has been heard on NPR and other national and local radio programs. Keith is the primary researcher and writer for HSH.com's MarketTrends newsletter and has authored or co-authored a number of consumer guides on mortgages, home equity, refinancing and more.