Today’s mortgage and refinance rates
Average mortgage rates inched higher yesterday. But only by the smallest measurable amount. And they’ve moved very little so far this week.
That doesn’t look to be changing this morning. And mortgage rates today may hold steady or nearly steady. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses.
Happy New Year!
Current mortgage and refinance rates
|Conventional 30 year fixed||3.402%||3.423%||Unchanged|
|Conventional 15 year fixed||2.567%||2.604%||+0.02%|
|Conventional 20 year fixed||3.143%||3.175%||Unchanged|
|Conventional 10 year fixed||2.716%||2.789%||+0.02%|
|30 year fixed FHA||3.245%||3.959%||-0.04%|
|15 year fixed FHA||2.635%||3.281%||-0.01%|
|5/1 ARM FHA||2.242%||3.142%||-0.11%|
|30 year fixed VA||3.097%||3.288%||-0.08%|
|15 year fixed VA||2.909%||3.257%||-0.03%|
|5/1 ARM VA||2.5%||2.533%||Unchanged|
|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?
There was encouraging news concerning the Omicron variant of COVID–19 from South Africa overnight. It’s already seeing its surge in new cases abate. And a similarly intense but brief wave may be in store for us here. More on that below.
I suspect markets will soon seize on this news, together with good data for the US economy. And, if I’m right, we could see mortgage rates resume their gentle drift upward.
However, key markets are today open for only a half–day and with fewer participants than usual. So we may have to wait until next week to see much impact.
In any event, I’m changing my personal rate lock recommendations today. And they’re now:
- 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 fell to 1.51% from 1.54%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
- Major stock indexes were mostly a little lower soon after opening. (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 fell to $76.12 from $76.88 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
- Gold prices edged higher to $1,825 from $1,809 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 – inched lower to 64 from 65 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 unlikely to move far. 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?
News from South Africa overnight could change the outlook for mortgage rates. Public health researchers revealed that new cases in that country have dropped 30% over the last week.
You’ll remember that South Africa was the nation that first identified the Omicron variant on Nov. 24. And it was the first to experience its ravages. If it is already seeing infection numbers fall, that could be good news for America and the rest of the world, both of which are behind its curve.
Of course, we may not follow South Africa’s experience precisely. The average age of its population is much lower than ours. And we likely have more vulnerable people. So only cautious optimism seems appropriate. But one Harvard public health researcher told The Washington Post overnight:
Omicron will likely be quick. It won’t be easy, but it will be quick. Come the early spring, a lot of people will have experienced covid.
WaPo, ‘Crazy’ omicron surge could peak soon, but the virus is unpredictable as the pandemic enters its third year” (paywall), Dec. 31, 2021
Indeed, the Post also reports, “Columbia University researchers estimate infections in the United States could top out during the week of Jan. 9.”
Of course, the one thing we’ve learned is that the virus is unpredictable. But, if things play out as many now hope, we could emerge stronger in just a few months, with a large proportion of the population protected by vaccines, previous infections or both.
What this means for mortgage rates
And that can only be good news for our economic outlook. The trouble is, what’s good for the economy is almost always bad for mortgage rates.
So we could soon see a resumption in the gentle drift higher that those rates were experiencing before Omicron arrived (and, sometimes, since).
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. 30 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.11% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.05%.
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 Dec. 20 and the MBA’s on Dec. 21.
Freddie’s were released on Oct. 15. It now updates its forecasts only quarterly. So we may not get another from it until January. And its figures are already looking stale.
However, 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.
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.
Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Dec. 31| Rates steady-ish is written by Peter Warden for themortgagereports.com