15year

How to land an ultra-low 15-year mortgage rate for your refinance

How to land an ultra-low 15-year mortgage rate for your refinance
How to land an ultra-low 15-year mortgage rate for your refinance

Thanks to this year’s historically low mortgage rates, refinancing remains a popular activity among homeowners — and it has taken on more urgency as a new refi fee threatens to push rates higher this fall.

A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage might be a borrower’s automatic first choice for a refi loan. But if you’ve been in your house a few years, refinancing to a 15-year mortgage can keep you from dragging out the debt and piling up massive interest costs.

The monthly payments on a 15-year home loan can be steeper, but the interest rates are lower: currently near an all-time low at an average 2.37%, which is one-half of 1 percentage point (0.50) below the typical 30-year mortgage rate, according to mortgage company Freddie Mac.

Some borrowers in 2020 have been able to score 15-year rates in the low 2s or even under 2%.

Could you? Here are four tips on how to get the very best deal when refinancing into a 15-year mortgage.

1. Run the numbers on 30- and 15-year loans

Most mortgage lenders offer both 30- and 15-year terms. Compare the current average rates between the two loan products, then zero in on a couple of lenders and see how their 30- and 15-year rates differ.

If 15-year mortgage rates don’t seem substantially lower, it may not seem worthwhile to accept the stiffer monthly payment that comes with the shorter-term loan.

Still, the long-haul savings can be considerable.

Freddie Mac says rates are now averaging 2.87% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, versus 2.37% for the 15-year option. Let’s say you’re trying to decide whether to refinance a $200,000 mortgage balance for either 15 or 30 years at today’s average rates.

  • Your monthly payment would be $1,321

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S.F. homes for sale at 15-year high as listings outpace buyers

San Francisco’s residential real estate market saw brisk activity from July through September with a steep increase in both sales and inventory, as a significant jump in buyers was not enough to keep up with the deluge of new condos and homes flooding the marketplace, according to a new report from the brokerage Compass.



a large body of water with a city in the background


© Nick Otto / Special To The Chronicle


The number of sales rose 30.2% compared to the third quarter last year, climbing from 1,151 to 1,499 transactions. But the number of listings is at a 15-year high, with a 10-month inventory for condos in some neighborhoods. Comparing September to the same month last year, the number of price reductions was up 172% for houses and condos combined. Of the price reductions, 80% were of condos.

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“The issue the inventory is increasing so much faster than the sales rate,” said Patrick Carlisle, chief market analyst for Compass. “Any time you have this relatively huge overhang of supply, and demand is stable, you are going to see price reductions.”

The market was bifurcated: single-family homes did better than condos; large homes were more popular than smaller homes; and many downtown high-rise offerings languished while listings in more suburban neighborhoods tended to trade faster and slightly above asking price.

The contrast between the single-family homes and condos was apparent in price, how long a property sat on the market, and whether the asking price had to be cut to attract buyers. The median sales for single-family homes inched up year over year from $1.57 million to $1.66 million while condo prices lagged, dipping slightly from $1.275 million to $1.250 million. Single-family listings sold at an average of 102.5% of listing price while condos went for an average of 97.5% of listing price.

Even within the condo segment

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