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5 smart times to lock in a mortgage rate

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If you're buying a home, don't miss out on the right opportunities to lock in your mortgage rate.  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Securing a mortgage loan is a significant step on the path to homeownership and, in many cases, it's one of the final steps before buying a home. But there are numerous decisions to make before you do that and one of the most crucial you'll make is when to lock in your mortgage rate

After all, the interest rate on your mortgage can greatly impact your monthly payments and the overall cost of your home. Just look at the current rate environment, a time when mortgage rates are over twice as high as they were in 2020 and 2021. Just a slight increase in an interest rate can have a hefty impact on the cost of your loan, so mortgage loan borrowers are now paying significantly more than they were a couple of years ago to purchase a home.  

So, if you're planning to buy a home, it's important to secure the best mortgage rate possible on your loan. But to do that, you'll need to understand the market and identify opportune times to lock in a mortgage rate.

Discover the mortgage loan rates you could qualify for here.

5 smart times to lock in a mortgage rate

If you're not sure when it makes sense to lock in a mortgage rate, here are a few times you may want to do so. 

When you've found your dream home

Timing is everything when it comes to purchasing a home and finding your dream home is a key factor in determining when to lock in a mortgage rate. Once you've identified the property you want to buy, it's time to secure your rate to ensure that your financing aligns with your purchase timeline.

Real estate markets can be competitive, and delaying the decision to lock in your rate may result in missed opportunities or increased competition for favorable rates. By being prepared to lock in your mortgage rate when you find the right home, you position yourself as a strong and serious buyer.

Explore your top mortgage loan options online today.

During a period of economic stability

One of the most opportune times to lock in a mortgage rate is during a period of economic stability. Interest rates are influenced by various economic factors, including inflation, employment rates and overall economic growth. And, when the economy is stable, central banks tend to maintain consistent interest rates to promote economic equilibrium.

During such periods, mortgage rates are likely to be relatively steady. Locking in a rate when the economy is stable can provide you with a sense of security, knowing that your mortgage payments won't fluctuate drastically in the near future. Keep a close eye on economic indicators and work closely with your lender to choose the right time to secure a rate that aligns with your financial goals.

When rates are at historical lows

Interest rates can fluctuate over time — as evidenced by the last several years — and sometimes they hit historical lows. When rates are exceptionally low, it's a smart time to lock in your mortgage rate. Low interest rates can result in significant savings over the life of your loan, as your monthly payments will be lower compared to higher interest rate environments.

To do this, it can help to monitor financial news and market trends to identify periods when interest rates are at lows. It's important to act swiftly during these times, as low rates may not last long. By securing a mortgage rate when rates are at their lowest, you position yourself to benefit from long-term savings on your home loan.

Before anticipated rate increases

Conversely, it's essential to lock in a mortgage rate before anticipated rate increases. Central banks may adjust interest rates in response to economic changes and these adjustments can impact mortgage rates. If economic indicators suggest that interest rates are likely to rise in the future, it may be wise to secure your mortgage rate before the anticipated increase.

Predicting interest rate movements can be challenging, but staying informed about economic trends and working closely with your mortgage advisor can help you make timely decisions. By acting proactively, you can lock in a favorable rate and avoid higher payments down the road.

Ahead of major life changes

Life is full of changes and major life events such as marriage, starting a family or changes in employment can impact your financial situation. If you anticipate significant life changes in the near future, it may be a smart time to lock in a mortgage rate.

Securing a mortgage rate before major life changes can provide stability and predictability in your financial planning. It also allows you to factor in your mortgage payments when considering your overall budget and financial goals.

The bottom line

Locking in a mortgage rate is a pivotal decision in the home buying process and timing plays a crucial role. Whether you're capitalizing on a stable economy, taking advantage of historically low rates or anticipating future rate increases, being strategic about when to lock in your mortgage rate can lead to substantial savings over the life of your loan. In most cases, the best strategy is to stay informed, work closely with your mortgage advisor and seize the opportunities presented by the market to make the most financially sound decision for your homeownership journey.

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