Buying a home in Maine
According to Zillow, the typical home value in Maine is comparable to the typical value of $259,906 across the US. The typical home value in Maine is $255,736, and Zillow expects it to increase to $275,000 by September 2021.
First-time homebuyer programs in Maine
You may qualify for the First Home Loan Program through MaineHousing. You'll get a mortgage with a relatively low interest rate and up to $3,500 toward closing cost/down payment assistance. If the home needs improvements, you can wrap the costs of maintenance into your mortgage.
Historic mortgage rates for Maine
By looking at the average mortgage rates in Maine since 2010, you can see trends for 30-year fixed mortgages, 15-year fixed mortgages, and 5/1 adjustable mortgages:
Seeing how today's rates compare to historic Maine mortgage rates may help you decide whether you'd be getting a good deal by getting a mortgage or refinancing now.
30-year fixed rates
You'll pay a higher interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage than on a shorter-term fixed-rate mortgage. The 30-year fixed rates used to be higher than adjustable rates, but recently 30-year terms have been the better deal.
Monthly payments are relatively low for a 30-year term, because you're spreading payments out over a longer period of time than you would with a shorter term.
You'll ultimately pay more in interest with a 30-year term than you would for a 15-year mortgage, because a) the rate is higher, and b) you'll be paying interest for longer.
15-year fixed rates
A 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is more affordable than a 30-year term in the long run. The 15-year rates are lower, and you'll pay off the loan in half the amount of time.
However, your monthly payments will be higher on a 15-year term than a 30-year term. You're paying off the same loan principal in half the time, so you'll pay more every month.
Adjustable Rate Mortgages
With an adjustable-rate loan, your rate stays the same for the first few years, then changes periodically. For example, your rate is locked in for the first five years on a 5/1 ARM, then your rate increases or decreases once per year.
ARM rates are at all-time lows right now, but a fixed-rate mortgage is still the better deal. The 30-year fixed rates are comparable to or lower than ARM rates. It could be in your best interest to lock in a low rate with a 30-year or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage rather than risk your rate increasing later with an ARM.
If you're considering an ARM, you should still ask your lender about what your individual rates would be if you chose a fixed-rate versus adjustable-rate mortgage.
Refinancing your mortgage in Maine
Mortgage refinance rates are at all-time lows right now, so it could be a good idea to switch your current mortgage for one with a better interest rate — especially if the new rate would be significantly lower.
You may decide to refinance with the same lender that gave you your initial mortgage, but it's not always the best idea. A different lender may offer you a better deal the second time around. Shop around for a company that will offer the best interest rate and charge relatively low fees.
How to get a low interest rate on your mortgage
Here are some tips for landing a good interest rate on your mortgage:
- Save more for a down payment. With a conventional loan, you may be able to put down as little as 3%. But lenders reward a higher down payment with a better interest rate. Mortgage rates should stay low for a while, so you may have time to save a bigger down payment.
- Increase your credit score. Many lenders require a minimum credit score of 620 to receive a mortgage. But you can land a better interest rate with a higher score. The most important factor for boosting your score is to pay all your bills on time.
- Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI is the amount you pay toward debts each month, divided by your gross monthly income. Most lenders want to see a DTI of 36% or less for a conventional mortgage, but a lower DTI can result in a lower rate. To improve your DTI, pay down debts or consider opportunities to increase your income.
- Choose a USDA or VA loan. If you're eligible, you might consider a USDA loan (for low-to-moderate income borrowers buying in a rural area) or a VA loan (for military families). These types of mortgages typically charge lower rates than FHA or conventional loans — and you don't need any money for a down payment.
Improving your financial situation and choosing the right type of mortgage for your needs can help you get the best interest rate possible.
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