Mortgage rates play a significant role in how much home you can afford, and it's important to watch them carefully as a homebuyer. The lower the rate, the better — even a small rise in rates can make a home that was once affordable, unaffordable.

Mortgage rates change frequently. Over the last 45 years, they have ranged from a high of 18.63% (1981) to a low of 3.31% (2012). While it's not likely that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate will return to its record low, the current average rate of 3.45% is pretty close— all to your advantage.

To put the financial importance of mortgage rates in perspective, this chart outlines a $200,000 loan financed at various rates over the past 50 years.

Date Average Rate Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage
Date: 1970s Average Rate: 8.86% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $1,589
Date: 1980s Average Rate: 12.70% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $2,166
Date: 1990s Average Rate: 8.12% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $1,484
Date: 2000s Average Rate: 6.29% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $1,237
Date: 2010s Average Rate: 3.99% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $954
Date: February 27, 2020 Average Rate: 3.45% Approximate monthly payment on a $200,000 mortgage: $894

Source: Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). Tracking through the PMMS began in March 1971. Mortgage payments are principal and interest only, based on a $200,000 fully amortizing mortgage. All terms are assumed to be 30 years. FreddieMac.com/pmms/

Buying a home is a big investment — perhaps the biggest one you'll make in your life. So, it's important to be sure you're ready to make that purchase. If you are ready, today's rates are not to be missed.

For more information on buying a home, visit My Home by Freddie Mac®.

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