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Mortgage Rates Tuesday, Feb. 21: Higher; Gap Widens in Housing Affordability

Feb. 21, 2017
Mortgage Rates, Mortgages
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Thirty-year fixed mortgage rates were up six basis points today, while 15-year fixed loans and 5/1 ARMs also rose slightly, according to a NerdWallet survey of current mortgage rates published by national lenders Tuesday morning. (Note: There was no survey on Monday due to the Presidents Day holiday.)


(Change from 2/17)
30-year fixed: 4.40% APR (+0.06)
15-year fixed: 3.72% APR (+0.01)
5/1 ARM: 3.82% APR (+0.02)

Affordability gap growing amid inventory shortage

Although the housing market has rebounded and existing-home sales are expected to increase by 1.7% this year, home affordability is creating a roadblock for potential home buyers, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors and the website

The Realtors Affordability Distribution Curve and Score, created jointly by NAR and, is a new monthly measure of “affordability conditions at different income percentiles for all active inventory on the market,” according to a press release. It’s based on data on mortgages, state-level income and listings on, according to the release.

The curve indicates that households with lower incomes have a more limited number of listings to choose from relative to their income level than do higher-income home shoppers — and more competition from other buyers.

For example, “a household in the 35th income percentile could afford [only] 28% of all listings, a median income household (50th percentile) could afford 46% of listings, and a household in the 75th percentile was able to afford 74% of active listings,” according to the release.

“Home prices have ascended far past wage growth in much of the country in recent years because not enough homeowners are selling and homebuilders have not boosted production enough to meet rising demand,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in the release.

Home buyers have complained to real estate agents about “a notable imbalance” between available listings and listings in their affordable range, says Yun: “NAR and’s new affordability measure confirms that buyers aren’t exaggerating about the imbalance. Amidst higher home prices and now mortgage rates, households with lower incomes have been able to afford less of all homes on the market last year and so far in 2017.”

» MORE: Calculate your monthly mortgage payment

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @debbie_kearns.