The interest rate on your mortgage is determined by the percentage of your loan balance. Payments are made along with the principal until the loan is repaid. This is one of the components used to determine the annual cost of borrowing money from a lender.

Defining And Illustrating Mortgage Interest Rates

Your mortgage interest rate determines how much it costs you to finance your home every month. Besides repaying the amount borrowed, you have to pay a fee to your lender. The interest you pay on your mortgage is part of your monthly payment. When you borrow money from a lender to buy a home, their interest rate effectively compensates them for that.

If your mortgage interest rate is 5%, you would pay 5% of your total loan balance in interest. You should have a much lower principal balance after 10 years of payments.

Mortgage Interest Rates: How Do They Work?

Interest rates on mortgages can fluctuate depending on broader economic factors and investment activity. Secondary markets also play a role.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bundle mortgage loans. These are sold to investors who are looking to make a profit. The interest rate lenders can charge on their loans depends on what mortgage-backed securities investors are willing to pay.

Mortgage Rates Can Fall When

  • There is a slump in the stock market.
  • Foreign markets are experiencing dips or insecurity.
  • The rate of inflation is slowing.
  • The number of unemployed people increases or the number of jobs decreases.

Mortgage Rates Rise When

  • Stocks are rising.
  • There is stability and strength in foreign markets.
  • The inflation rate is rising.
  • There is a low unemployment rate, and jobs are growing.

In simple terms, an interest rate indicates how much you will pay your lender each year for borrowing money. In addition to your credit score and your lender, the average mortgage rate will depend on the mortgage bond market.

An interest rate is simply a percentage that has been agreed upon. Paying off the principal balance you borrowed will decrease your monthly interest payments as well. That remaining balance is subject to your percentage interest rate.

An Analysis Of Mortgage Interest Rates Versus Annual Percentage Rates (APRs)

Mortgage Interest RateAnnual Percentage Rate (APR)
Calculated as a percentage of your borrowed funds.Your interest rate, points, broker fees, and other costs will determine your loan amount. 
On your loan estimate, you can find them under “Loan Terms.”.You can find it under “Comparisons” in your loan estimate.
Because it’s only one component of your APR, it’s typically lower than your annual percentage rate.Usually higher than the interest rate on your mortgage.

The annual percentage rate provides a more accurate picture of the cost of borrowing.

Market Implications

Despite the fact that mortgage rates don’t directly affect home prices, they influence the housing supply, which has a significant impact on pricing. The rise in mortgage rates makes it less likely for existing homeowners to list their properties and enter the market. As a result, there are few properties for sale, which drives up demand and prices.

When rates are low, owners are more willing to sell their properties, which leads to a rise in inventory. As rates rise, more choices and negotiating power will become available to buyers, but that depends on how much they increase. Increasing rates too long or too high can stifle demand for properties, no matter how few are available. For sellers to compete, they would need to lower their prices.

Using a home equity loan, rather than depleting your savings, you can pay for renovations, student loans, or anything else. Understanding how long it takes to get a home equity loan is a good first step in the process.

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Linda Bradley
Linda Bradley
Formerly a senior accountant with a business degree, Linda now manages to generate story ideas; planning, assigning, and editing content for our website.


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