Today’s mortgage and refinance rates
Average mortgage rates held steady yesterday. Another fall had seemed likely but some markets whiplashed yesterday, meaning they changed direction sharply.
First thing this morning, it was looking as if mortgage rates today might increase or hold steady. But, as we saw yesterday, they often change direction sharply as the hours pass. As CNN Business put it this morning: “Get ready for more wild swings. Volatile markets are back.”
Current mortgage and refinance rates
|Conventional 30 year fixed||3.772%||3.796%||Unchanged|
|Conventional 15 year fixed||3.089%||3.128%||-0.02%|
|Conventional 20 year fixed||3.426%||3.466%||-0.01%|
|Conventional 10 year fixed||3.007%||3.079%||-0.01%|
|30 year fixed FHA||3.857%||4.634%||+0.01%|
|15 year fixed FHA||3.079%||3.73%||-0.02%|
|5/1 ARM FHA||3.75%||4.012%||+0.06%|
|30 year fixed VA||3.982%||4.188%||+0.04%|
|15 year fixed VA||3.275%||3.616%||+0.01%|
|5/1 ARM VA||3.606%||3.115%||+0.18%|
|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?
My advice is still to lock your mortgage rate soon, though not on days when falls look likely.
But my case isn’t as clear as it was a couple of weeks ago. Because there are more risk factors around at the moment. Read on for more details.
Still, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:
- LOCK if closing in 7 days
- LOCK if closing in 15 days
- LOCK if closing in 30 days
- LOCK if closing in 45 days
- LOCK 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 1.74% from 1.72%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
- Major stock indexes were sharply lower. (Good 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 decreased to $83.59 from $83.91 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
- Gold prices edged up to $1,842 from $1,834 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 — dropped to 36 from 38 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 are likely to rise or hold steady. However, 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.
A lot is going on at the moment. 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?
Tomorrow, at 2: p.m. (ET), we’ll see the publication of a statement by the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Thirty minutes later, Fed Chair Jerome Powell will host a news conference.
And what’s said and written that day could have a big impact on mortgage rates, even though no major announcements are expected. Because we might get some hints over its plans for its asset balance sheet.
As of last Wednesday, the Fed owned $2.7 trillion ($2,686,262,000,000) worth of mortgage-backed securities (MBSs), the type of bond that largely determines mortgage rates.
It acquired the bulk of those to keep mortgage rates artificially low. Its purchases pushed up the price of MBSs, which sent their yields (and therefore mortgage rates) lower. Bond prices always move inversely to bond yields.
The Fed’s already announced that it’s slowing those purchases and will stop adding them to its balance sheet in March. However, it will continue to spend the money it receives when these bonds mature on new ones. So it’s not completely ducking out of the market.
Two big questions
The first of two big questions is: For how long? The last time it ended a similar round of MBS asset purchases, it kept reinvesting receipts from maturities for 30 months. But some members of the FOMC are already saying that’s too long. The sooner it fully pulls out of the market, the greater the upward pressure on mortgage rates.
The second big question is: When will it reverse the policy, reducing the MBSs on its balance sheet by selling them? No doubt, it will dribble them onto the market when it does. But that’s still bound to add more pressure on mortgage rates to rise.
Nobody’s expecting the FOMC to lay out a detailed timetable for changes to its treatment of MBSs tomorrow. But signals and hints are a different matter. That’s how the Fed operates: by softening up markets ahead of actual announcements through series of those signals and hints.
In response, markets have turned the reading of those hints into an art form, parsing every sentence and poring over every word. And it can take a while for markets to do that. So, sometimes, it takes time for them to respond.
In other words, don’t necessarily expect an immediate, sharp reaction to the Fed’s words tomorrow. Unless their meaning is immediately clear, it may take days or longer for the message to sink in.
If you subscribe to The Wall Street Journal and wish to know more, read Fed Steps Up Deliberations on Shrinking Its $9 Trillion Asset Portfolio.
Why mortgage rates could yet fall
Even when mortgage rates were amid an obvious upward trend, I’d occasionally trot out a list of things that could turn them around. And I’d say they were possible but highly unlikely. Suddenly, some of them seem a bit less unlikely.
My list would often include a new and highly damaging COVID-19 variant, a war involving the US, and a stock market collapse.
Hmm. The possibility of a new variant has never gone away. But the situation in Ukraine is a new danger. The Pentagon has put 8,500 troops on high alert and other NATO forces are also rallying in response to a highly credible threat from Russia.
Meanwhile, last week, Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of Boston-based fund manager GMO, wrote about his fears of a “superbubble” in stock and property markets. And he’s expecting that bubble to pop soon. Of course, there are always a few doomsayers around Wall Street predicting such events. But, as The Guardian put it this morning, Mr. Grantham “called the dot-com and 2006-08 crashes with impressive precision.”
Writing in a Wall Street Journal e-newsletter this morning, Jason Zweig acknowledged the risk: “I don’t know whether we’re on the cusp of a cataclysmic decline, or whether this is one of the market’s normal see-saw rides.” Food for thought.
So, mortgage rates might fall if any of these scenarios comes to pass. But at what cost!
For a longer overview of where mortgage rates are going, read the weekend edition of this daily rates 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, 2021, 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 last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.
Freddie’s Jan. 20 report puts that weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.56% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.45%.
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 four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).
The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s were published on Jan. 19 and Freddie’s and the MBA’s on Jan. 21.
Personally, I was surprised that Fannie Mae only slightly increased its rate forecasts in January. It believes that rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages will average 3.2% over the current quarter. But, on the day its figures were published, we reported those for conventional loans were already up to 3.87%.
Do Fannie’s economists expect those rates to plummet later this month or in February or March and remain lower in the following quarters? If so, they know something that I don’t. And that their peers in Freddie and the MBA’s teams don’t, either, though I’m less optimistic than any of them.
Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.
Find your lowest rate today
You should comparison shop 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.