Today's mortgage and refinance rates: February 17, 2021 | Rates steady

Since last Wednesday, mortgage and refinance rates have stayed relatively constant and are still at historic lows. 

If you’re looking to buy a home or refinance, you might consider going for a fixed-rate mortgage instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage.

Darrin English, Senior Community Development Loan Officer at Quontic Bank, told Insider ARMs used to be a better deal for borrowers. But now you could lock in a lower rate with a 15-year or 30-year fixed term — and you won’t risk your ARM rate going up in the future. You may want to secure a low rate while possible.

Mortgage rates on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mortgage typeAverage rate todayAverage rate last week
15-year fixed2.33%2.3%
30-year fixed3.13%3.11%
7/1 ARM4.07%4.07%
10/1 ARM3.85%3.85%

Rates from

The rates for 15-year and 30-year fixed mortgages have ticked up marginally since last Wednesday, while both 7/1 and 10/1 ARM rates remain unchanged.

We’re displaying the average rates nationwide for conventional mortgages, which may be what you consider “normal mortgages.” You may be eligible for a lower rate with a government-backed mortgage through the FHA, VA, or USDA. 

Mortgage rates are still at all-time lows in general. Low rates often signify a struggling economy. As the US continues to deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, mortgage rates will likely remain low. 

Refinance rates on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mortgage typeAverage rate todayAverage rate last week
15-year fixed2.58%2.56%
30-year fixed3.45%3.44%
7/1 ARM4.52%4.53%
10/1 ARM4.25%4.26%

Rates from

Since last Wednesday, refinance rates on fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages have remained practically flat. No rate has changed by more than two basis points.

Best ways to get a low mortgage rate

It may be a good day to lock in a low mortgage rate. 

Since last week, mortgage rates have hovered around all-time lows. If you’re thinking about getting a mortgage or refinancing, you may want to act to get a low rate. However, there’s no need to rush, as rates will likely remain low for the next few months, if not years. 

If you want to lock in the lowest rate, think about some of the following steps before applying:

  • Increase your credit score by making timely payments, paying down your debts, or letting your credit age. You’ll receive a better interest rate with a higher score, and many lenders will improve your rate with a score of at least 700. 
  • Save more for a down paymentThe smallest amount required for your down payment will depend on the type of mortgage you want. The bigger your down payment, the more likely your lender is to offer a better interest 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. You can improve your rate by lowering your ratio. To better your ratio, pay down debts or look for opportunities to boost your income. 

You can secure a low rate now if your finances are in order, but there’s no need to rush to get a mortgage or refinance if you’re not ready.  

How do 15-year fixed mortgage rates work?

With a 15-year fixed mortgage, it will take you 15 years to pay off your loan, and your interest rate will remain the same for the entire term. 

You’ll fork over higher monthly payments with a 15-year term than a longer term. It will take you half the time to pay off the same mortgage principal. 

On the other hand, it will cost less to take out a 15-year fixed mortgage than a 30-year fixed mortgage. You’ll pay off the mortgage in half the time and will get a lower interest rate to boot. 

How do 30-year fixed mortgage rates work?

If you take out a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay down your mortgage over three decades, and you’ll have a locked-in interest rate the whole time. 

You’ll pay less per month with a 30-year term than a shorter term because you’re splitting up your payments over more time. 

However, you’ll pay more in interest with a 30-year fixed mortgage than a 15-year fixed mortgage. You’re paying a higher interest rate for an extended period, so your total interest paid will be higher. 

How do ARMs work?

An adjustable-rate mortgage, often referred to as an ARM, will secure your rate for a predetermined amount of time. Then your rate will change periodically. A 7/1 ARM keeps your rate the same for seven years; then, your rate will fluctuate annually.

You may still want to get a fixed-rate mortgage, even though ARM rates are at striking lows. You can lock in a low rate for the long term without changing an increased future rate with an ARM.

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

Whether you’re considering an adjustable-rate mortgage or a fixed-rate mortgage, take the time to make sure your finances are in order. If you’re comfortable with your financial situation, now could be a great day to lock in a low rate.

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 Wednesday, February 17 »

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