More than one in four U.S. homeowners—or 27%—don’t know the interest rate on their current home, according to a new study published by Bankrate. That lack of knowledge may be prompting homeowners to miss out on refinancing their mortgage into a lower rate and saving on monthly costs. Mortgage rates have recently been hovering at three-year lows. Younger homeowners are the most likely to be unaware of their mortgage rate. About 34% of homeowners between the ages of 29 to 39 say they’re unsure what their mortgage rate is. On the other hand, for comparison, 23% of homeowners between the ages of 56 and 74 don’t know their mortgage rate.
“It is concerning that more than a quarter of mortgage borrowers don’t know the rate of interest they’re paying on their existing mortgage,” says Mark Hamrick, Bankrate’s senior economist analyst. “Given the decline in mortgage rates we’ve seen over the past year, many qualified homeowners would stand to benefit, or save, by refinancing.”
A strong economy, low unemployment, low mortgage rates, and alluring mortgage rates are making it a great time to buy a home, according to a newly released report from LendingTree, an online financial services marketplace. The amount of income that buyers spent on their mortgage payments also dropped from 2010 through 2019, despite higher home prices.
“If you are in a point in your life where you’re considering buying a home today, it’s a better time to buy than 10 years ago,” Tendayi Kapfidze, LendingTree’s chief economist, told realtor.com®. “If you can get a mortgage, you’re getting much lower interest rates, and it enables you to afford more. But that also means that you’re competing with more buyers, who are bidding up the prices.”
Indeed, median sales prices jumped 53.5% between early 2012 and summer 2019, according to realtor.com®. But a decrease in average mortgage rates—by more than a percentage point from the start of the decade—is helping to offset some of that uptick. Mortgage rates have dropped from 5.09% to 3.74% during that time period. That drop could save borrowers hundreds of dollars a year to tens of thousands over the life of the loan, realtor.com® reports.
Since the Great Recession, borrowers are being more responsible too, Kapfidze says. They’re “much healthier financially than they were 10 years ago,” Kapfidze says. “One reason is because of low mortgage rates. If you refinance, [you can] reduce your monthly mortgage payments.”
Homeowners are also sitting on more equity. In 2012, nationwide equity reached a low of $8.2 trillion. In 2019, it grew to about $18.7 trillion.