Mortgage rates continue their upward march, with 30-year fixed rate mortgages crossing the 6% mark this week, Bankrate data reveals. Indeed, the national average for 30-year fixed mortgages hit 6.02%, and the national average for 15-year fixed-rate mortgage loans rose to 5.29%, according to Bankrate data from June 16. And some pros say rates could go even higher (see the lowest mortgage rates you can get now here).
So what can you do to save on a mortgage now? If you can afford a 15-year mortgage, rates are lower on those. Another thing to think about is an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) — but only if it makes sense for you. Indeed, the latest Bankrate data shows that average rates on 5/1 ARMS (rates are fixed for five years, then adjust) are 4.09%.
But note that ARMs tend to make the most sense for short-term homeowners who only plan to be in the same home for 5 to 7 years. And because rates become variable, “ARMs can be risky, and in the long run they may end up costing more than a fixed mortgage with a higher upfront rate,” says Jacob Channel, LendingTree’s senior economic analyst, recently told MarketWatch Picks.
You also might want to consider buying discount points, which are fees paid to reduce an interest rate — generally one point roughly decreases the interest rate by 0.25%, though this can vary. “When you pay discount points, you’re handing the lender a chunk of interest payments up front in exchange for paying less interest every month,” Holden Lewis, home and mortgage expert at Nerdwallet, recently told MarketWatch Picks. But note that there may be limits to how many discount points you can buy, and buying points may not make sense, especially if you don’t plan to stay in the home for long.
No matter what type of loan you get, experts advise getting quotes from 3 to 5 lenders and figuring out some important numbers, like your credit score (improve it if needed) and debt-to-income ratio (DTI), both of which lenders use to determine what rate you will be offered. To calculate your DTI, divide your monthly debt payments (mortgage; credit card payments; auto, student or personal loans; child support) by your gross monthly income. If the number you come out at or below 36%, your chances of qualifying for a mortgage, and at a better rate, are better than if you come out with a higher number as your DTI.
And this MarketWatch Picks guide offers eight tips for getting the lowest mortgage rate. One of the tips: Consider first-time homebuyer programs. “With aid like down payment assistance, funds available for repairs and remodeling, no-interest second loans and reduced interest rates, first-time homebuyer programs are designed to lure new residents to specific areas. States like California, Florida, Illinois and New York offer programs to help alleviate costs associated with taking out a new mortgage and some states even offer tax credits that can be used on your federal tax return. FHA loans, USDA loans and VA loans are among the most common loan types for buyers with lower credit and smaller down payments,” MarketWatch Picks reveals.
This story originally Appeared on Yahoo