When you’re getting ready to buy and finance a home or perhaps refinance an existing mortgage, one of the things you end up doing is shopping around for mortgage rates. Individual lenders set their own rates each and every day. Sometimes even more than once per day during an odd, but not unprecedented, volatile mortgage market. The Fed doesn’t set your typical 30 year fixed rate mortgage, it’s the individual lender. Yes, the Fed does affect mortgage rates but only indirectly. Some adjustable rates can reflect Fed actions but your everyday fixed rate loan is in the lender’s hands.
Okay, that said, how do you shop around for rates? Here are some things you should definitely do:
Shop for rates on the same day.
Because mortgage rates react to certain market conditions, getting a rate quote on a Monday could be very different from a rate on Thursday. Market conditions can change in just a few days, so to be fair to yourself, set aside a rate shopping day and start making some calls. Note here, when you review rates on a website, pay attention to when the rate was posted. If it was a couple of days ago, you need to pick up the phone and make a few calls.
Shop at the same time of day.
Just as it’s important to shop around on the same day, you can also help by shopping at the same time of day as well. Again, things can change rather rapidly without your knowing and a rate quote in the morning might be different in the afternoon.
Shop for the same program.
Only get a quote for the same exact mortgage program. You can’t compare rates for a 30 year loan with a 15, for example. And certainly don’t compare rates for a fixed with an adjustable.
If you’re getting 30 year quotes and you’re shopping in the morning, make sure you get the exact program and I mean exact. Get a quote for a 30 year loan with one point, for example. And also get the quote for the same ‘lock’ period. Most lenders offer various rate guarantees, or locks, at different periods of time. A lender might have a 10 day lock, a 30 day and so on. The longer the lock period, the higher the rate will be.
Finally, compare lender fees. One lender might have a much better rate than everyone else but that lender might also have higher loan charges.
It can be hard to compare apples and apples sometimes, but if you follow these steps, you’ll be doing exactly that.