Mortgage Rates Over Time: Are Today’s Really The Worst For You?

Mortgage rates

We continue to see changes in the home buying and mortgage loan markets because of rising interest rates. The Fed has been increasing interest rates since 2022 to help reduce inflation, which reached over 8% last year. 

If we look at mortgage rates over time, we can see that the low mortgage interest rates we saw between the 2010s and 2020 were unusual. In 1990, the average mortgage interest rate was 10.13%. In 1979, the average mortgage interest rate was over 11%. Let’s look at mortgage interest rates in recent decades.

Mortgage rates during the 1970s

The 1970s started out with mortgage loan interest in the mid-7% range, similar to today. People remember the 70s as a decade for roller disco, leisure suits for men, and the rise of fast food restaurants. The decade ended at an interest-rate high of 11.2% in 1979. 

Mortgage rates during the 1980s

The 1980s began with a lot of economic disruption. The U.S. was in a recession and also experienced high inflation. If you think mortgage rates are high now, imagine being around in 1981, when they topped 18%. By the mid-80s, rates had declined, and averaged around 9%. The 80s ended with mortgage interest of 9.78%, just under the 10% mark.

1990s mortgage rate trends

The 1990s were known as the first era, with a lot of excitement and investment in the early internet. “You’ve got mail!” was the greeting for America Online and the title of a popular movie. The upswing in the economy combined with more consumer confidence, and interest rates shifted downward. The decade started with interest rates at or near 10%, but it ended with a 6.94% interest rate in 1999.

Early 2000s mortgage rates

In 2000, mortgage rates reached 8.05%, but declined to about 5.5 to 5.9% in 2003. Many new homes were built, but the 2008 worldwide mortgage crisis led to a recession that affected home prices and lives around the world. Short-term interest rates reached zero at one point. By the end of the decade, mortgage interest rates were about 5%.

Mortgage rates after 2008

After the mortgage crisis began to work itself out, interest rates entered a lower level than they had been before. Since the 2010s, we became accustomed to mortgage rates ranging between 3% and 4%. During the 2020 pandemic, interest rates were very low. Since that time, we’ve seen increased up to today’s average of slightly over 7%. Interest rates may continue to rise, but there’s a good chance they will never reach their shocking peak of over 18% in 1981. Working with an experienced loan professional can help to navigate mortgage interest rate ups and downs.


Caginalp, Ruben. “Historical mortgage rate trends: 1970s to 2023,” Bankrate, 20 July 2023, url:

Graham, Kevin. “Historical Mortgage Rates 30 Year Fixed,” Rocket Mortgage, 22 June 2023, url: