Mortgage rates are at or near record lows.
Nationally, they edged up a little for 30-year mortgages and reached a new low for 15-year fixed-rate home loans, mortgage-purchaser Freddie Mac reported Thursday. But they can vary by up to half a percentage point from one city to the next. Which metropolitan areas offer the best mortgage rates?
Here's our list of the Top 5 major metros for a 30-year fixed-rate mortage, based on data from Bankrate.com (which are averaged over the first three Wednesdays of September):
5. St. Louis – 4.67 percent average rate
Like most of our Top 5 cities, St. Louis avoided the worst of the housing crisis. Average home prices are down only about 2 percent from their peak before the housing crisis, according to the National Realtors Association.
4. Atlanta – 4.45 percent
Atlanta home prices are down 20 percent from their peak, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller housing indices, which is the second worst among our Top 5, but represents less than half the decline of a Las Vegas or Phoenix.
3. Houston – 4.43 percent
The capital of America's oil industry came through the great recession with less damage than most US metros. Its unemployment rate is nearly 1 percentage point lower than the national rate.
2. Dallas – 4.39 percent
Like Houston, Dallas has weathered the recession better than most, thanks to a diversified economy and housing prices that never got too out of whack during the housing boom. Although employment fell when the recession first hit, Dallas employers now have more workers than ever, just under 3 million workers.
1. Minneapolis – 4.36 percent
Minneapolis easily offers the best average mortgage rates in our list of Top 25 metros. It took the top spot in two of the three weekly Bankrate.com surveys. Employment is growing and housing prices have rebounded 16 percent since hitting a trough in April 2009, according to the Case/Shiller index. It also appears to be one of the few places you can surf in the Midwest.
Which major metro area has the highest rates, according to Bankrate.com? Seattle – 4.82 percent.