Today’s mortgage and refinance rates
Average mortgage rates nudged modestly higher yesterday. It was another day on which key markets started out heading in one direction only to perform a screeching U-turn. No wonder financial writers are trotting out the old “roller coaster” cliché.
It’s hard to work out what’s driving markets this morning. The monthly jobs report, out earlier, was much worse than expected. Yet mortgage rates today look likely to move modestly higher. That doesn’t make much sense and might well change as investors digest the data and news.
Current mortgage and refinance rates
|Conventional 30 year fixed||3.317%||3.337%||+0.03%|
|Conventional 15 year fixed||2.695%||2.726%||+0.01%|
|Conventional 20 year fixed||3.169%||3.2%||Unchanged|
|Conventional 10 year fixed||2.663%||2.728%||+0.02%|
|30 year fixed FHA||3.321%||4.086%||Unchanged|
|15 year fixed FHA||2.645%||3.289%||+0.05%|
|5/1 ARM FHA||2.207%||3.097%||Unchanged|
|30 year fixed VA||3.247%||3.442%||+0.09%|
|15 year fixed VA||2.86%||3.203%||+0.13%|
|5/1 ARM VA||2.5%||2.5%||+0.11%|
|Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.|
Should you lock a mortgage rate today?
Whether or not we see the lower mortgage rates I’ve been hoping for over the next few weeks will depend on how harmful the COVID-19 Omicron variant turns out to be. But, after an initial panic, investors seem to be buying predictions from more optimistic scientists. So we may have to wait for those lower rates. And they may not materialize at all.
No, I’m not ready to give up on my hope, though you may feel differently. However, I may be forced to again change my personal rate lock recommendations soon.
Still, for now, those remain:
- FLOAT if closing in 7 days
- FLOAT if closing in 15 days
- FLOAT if closing in 30 days
- FLOAT if closing in 45 days
- FLOAT if closing in 60 days
>Related: 7 Tips to get the best refinance rate
Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates
Here’s a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:
- The yield on 10-year Treasury notes rose to 1.45% from 1.43%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
- Major stock indexes were mostly higher soon after opening. (Bad for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
- Oil prices climbed to $68.98 from $64.78 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
- Gold prices inched up to $1,774 from $1,770 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
- CNN Business Fear & Greed index — increased to 26 from 23 out of 100. (Good for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones
*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.
Caveats about markets and rates
Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won’t achieve its former high levels until things settle down.
So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today look likely to rise modestly. But be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.
Important notes on today’s mortgage rates
Here are some things you need to know:
- Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read ‘How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
- Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
- Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
- When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
- Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed
So a lot is going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.
Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?
Earlier this week, I doubted that investors would avert their gaze from the Omicron variant for long enough even to notice this morning’s employment situation report. Overnight, I thought I’d been wrong. Now, I’m not so sure.
In November, 210,000 new jobs were added to nonfarm payrolls. But economists polled by MarketWatch had expected 573,000. That’s quite a shortfall, which would normally push mortgage rates lower. But they were rising first thing.
That’s so far a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe it will change as the day progresses.
Yesterday, Nature magazine’s website published a useful review of our knowledge so far of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. It reminded us that barely a week had passed since the new strain’s existence was announced. And described how scientists are racing to gain some understanding of its characteristics. That article continued:
Yet it might take scientists weeks to paint a more complete picture of Omicron, and to gain an understanding of its transmissibility and severity, as well as its potential to evade vaccines and cause reinfections.
— Nature, “How bad is Omicron? What scientists know so far,” Dec. 2, 2021
So far, the picture is mixed. Some researchers see signs that Omicron may cause severe problems (hospitalizations and deaths) in fewer cases than the Delta variant. But others are observing very high transmission rates, even among those who have been previously infected by — or vaccinated against — Delta.
But both those narratives are based on very limited studies. And nobody’s yet ready to reach any firm conclusions.
What this means for mortgage rates
After an initial sharp reaction to the discovery of Omicron, investors seem willing to shrug off its threats, at least until those are more clearly defined. So mortgage rates have risen over the last few days, wiping out about half of the gains made after the new variant was announced, according to Mortgage News Daily’s archive.
Indeed, yesterday, Freddie Mac’s weekly rates announcement showed those for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage had only inched up to 3.11% from 3.10% the previous week.
Of course, nobody wants Omicron to be as devastating as looked possible a week ago. But the thin silver lining around that blackest of clouds would have been lower mortgage rates.
Yes, we might still see those, depending on what scientists discover and how investors react to their revelations. But let’s hope we don’t.
I’m now considering changing my rate lock recommendations again. But I’m groping as blindly in the dark as everyone else is.
Debt ceiling can kicked further down the road
There’s one piece of good news. A crisis that might have brought much higher mortgage rates has been averted.
Yesterday, both houses of Congress passed spending legislation that averted an imminent, partial government shutdown. But it’s just a patch, which will expire on Feb. 18. And we’ll need new spending bills between now and then that raise the debt ceiling and keep funding the government.
For more background, read Saturday’s weekend edition of this daily report.
Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.
The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages.
Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.
Freddie’s Dec. 2 report puts that weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.11% (with 0.6 fees and points), slightly up from the previous week.
Expert mortgage rate forecasts
Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.
And here are their current rate forecasts for the remaining, current quarter of 2021 (Q4/21) and the first three quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22 and Q3/22).
The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s were published on Nov. 18 and the MBA’s on Nov. 22.
Freddie’s were released on Oct. 15. It now updates its forecasts only quarterly. So we may not get another from it until January.
However, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.
And none of these forecasters had any idea that Omicron might entirely change the models on which they’re based.
Find your lowest rate today
Some lenders have been spooked by the pandemic. And they’re restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.
But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.
But, of course, you should be comparison shopping widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:
Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
Mortgage rate methodology
The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.