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Is A Mortgage Rate An Interest Rate?

If you are determined to invest in a property and be a homeowner, you may be considering a mortgage. However, the question of is a mortgage rate an interest rate may have popped in your mind while considering it, as interest rates are a common part of the lending and borrowing process in financial institutions.

In short, yes, mortgage rates are interest rates but are determined differently. Since interest is a charge on borrowed assets calculated as a percentage of the total amount, and a mortgage rate is a charge on mortgages when buying a home, the two have the same purpose.

Doing enough research and not rushing into an investment should be your priority with mortgages. It is possible to learn how lenders calculate and determine this and how to recognize a good purchase, and I can definitely help.

What Is an Interest Rate?

By simple definition, interest is a charge to the borrower for using an asset, and it is calculated in percentages of the total amount. Someone who applies for a loan is a borrower, while the party approving and giving the loan is a lender.

Money isn’t the only asset lenders get interest on. There are interests on consumer goods, property, and vehicles, too. The reasons why someone might take out a loan are different, but typically, people borrow in order to open a business, buy a home, fund projects, or pay off college tuition. 

You can also accumulate interest over time on a savings account, which is known as compound interest. This is the kind of interest that is typically good, since the bank rewards you for storing funds with them. However, compound interests are also worth checking out, because they vary depending on the financial institution.

Interest is paid over time, either through a lump sum or installments over a predetermined period. Over time, it becomes higher than the total loan sum, and there are no exceptions to that. It’s essentially how banks earn money.

How are Mortgage Rates Set?

Just like interest rates, mortgage rates are charges to a total amount of money borrowed for a home loan. These are determined by the lenders – either fixed to be the same over the repayment period or fluctuating, based on a benchmark interest rate.

As a homebuyer, you can look at certain indicators to understand what kinds of home loans are out there. The main factor to observe is the prime rate, which is the lowest average banks are willing to offer for credit, and the most commonly considered in mortgages. It is key to understanding how a bank sees you – as a high-risk or low-risk borrower.

The bank you go to for a loan will assess your credit score and history as the main factor for determining your rates and the risks of lending to you. If you have an excellent credit score, you’re a low-risk borrower likely to make payments on time, which is why great credit scores are always rewarded.

Another way to determine loans is by observing the 10-year Treasury Bond yield, which is a great indicator of market trends. Essentially, the mortgages rise together with the bond yields and vice versa.

Does the Federal Reserve Affect Mortgage Rates?

Changes in the Federal Reserve do affect prime rates, which are typically around 3% higher than the current federal ones. This means that current economic trends and whether or not the national reserve is doing well are the factors that determine the prime rate, and with that, the mortgages.

The table below shows the information on the current interest rates and annual percentage rates (APR) on fixed-rate and adjustable rate mortgages(ARM) loans.

Type of Mortgage RateInterest RateAnnual Percentage Rate
10-year fixed2.079%2.162%
15-year fixed2.177%2.306%
20-year fixed2.774%2.871%
30-year fixed2.958%3.029%
7/1 adjustable (ARM)2.619%2.922%
5/1 ARM2.559%2.824%
3/1 ARM2.917%3.555%

How Are Interest Rates Determined?

The US Federal Reserve is the central bank that determines the annual interest, which other banks and lenders then use as a guideline to determine their annual percentage rate or APR. This rate is determined by banks according to their benefit plans.

Additionally, a bank or other financial lender will always take your credit score and history, be it home loans or others. The good part is that your credit score is well within your power, which means actively working on raising it will make you more eligible for various loans.

Does Mortgage Type Affect my Rate?

There are a few types of home loans that could affect rates, and they are:

  • Government-backed or conventional loans – the former are insured and funded by some associations like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA,) the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA,) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). The latter are common loans determined by mortgage companies but require higher credit scores than the government-backed ones.
  • Fixed or adjustable rate (ARM) – fixed-rate mortgages don’t change over the course of the years – you pay the predetermined percentage the entire time. ARMs start off with lower interests, but they could go both up and down over time since they’re unpredictable.
  • 30-year or other terms – 30-year terms are the most common and show how long you’d be paying off your home loan; this term has a lower monthly payment, but you end up paying more than what the lender gave you. Shorter terms have a higher monthly payment but lower interests.
  • Conforming or jumbo loans – the former is determined by the highest possible amount mortgage companies are willing to give, which isn’t the same as the highest possible amount in general. If you want to go over the limit, that’d be the latter, a jumbo loan.

What’s the Difference Between Interest Rate and Annual Percentage Rate?

As I’ve already mentioned above, an interest is a percentage of the total sum a lender gives to a borrower. Annual Percentage Rate or APR is a more general term for calculating the cost of borrowing. It can compare loan information such as fees, discounts, and interest. It also has mortgage insurance, which is a kind of guarantee to the lenders that they won’t lose money if you fail to make a payment on time.