Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Oct. 20| Rates rising

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates eased lower yesterday. That was a relief after they touched their highest point in several months on Monday. But never forget that recent highs would have been greeted as unthinkable lows over almost all the last 50 years.

Unfortunately, it’s looking as if mortgage rates today are likely to resume their climb. But that may change during the coming hours.

Find and lock a low rate (Oct 20th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.255% 3.275% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.596% 2.626% -0.02%
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.05% 3.081% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.535% 2.598% +0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 3.232% 3.994% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.581% 3.225% Unchanged
5/1 ARM FHA 2.669% 3.195% -0.01%
30 year fixed VA 3.064% 3.256% -0.03%
15 year fixed VA 2.819% 3.169% +0.06%
5/1 ARM VA 2.511% 2.423% 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.
Find and lock a low rate (Oct 20th, 2021)

COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Read on for details of the array of forces that are currently pushing mortgage rates higher. Might they lose some potency soon? Certainly. But, in my view, that’s less likely than those rates continuing to climb.

So 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

However, I don’t claim perfect foresight. And your personal analysis could turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So you might choose to be guided by your instincts and your personal tolerance for risk.

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 inched up to 1.64% from 1.62%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were 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 fell to $81.88 from $82.23 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 higher to $1,781 from $1,777 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 — Website unavailable this morning

*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. But be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find and lock a low rate (Oct 20th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. 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
  2. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  3. 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
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed

So there’s a lot 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?

Today and soon

It may well be that a dwindling fear of the economic effects of COVID-19 is becoming the main driver of higher rates. Mortgage rates began to fall when the pandemic came to be perceived as a serious threat in April 2020.

And they’ve fallen and risen since pretty much in line with how big a hit investors think it’s giving the economy. The bigger the threat, the lower those rates have gone. That’s to be expected. Because a poor economy generally brings low rates and a thriving one high rates.

Back on Sept. 13, something strange happened. The rate of new infections in America suddenly began to tumble. On that day, there were 285,058 new cases, according to The New York Times (paywall). But, yesterday, that was down to 83,624.

And the graph shows consistent falls between the two dates. Meanwhile, hospitalization and death rates are — with a lag — now showing similar falls.

Of course, it’s always possible that we’ll experience a new wave of COVID-19 over the winter. We did during the 2020-21 one. And that peaked on Jan. 8, 2021 at 300,777 new cases that day before a rapid fall set in. It may be no coincidence that the last all-time low for mortgage rates was reported on Jan 6. Or that they rose as cases fell.

If such a new winter wave arises in 2021-22, mortgage rates may fall again, though probably not as sharply as they did in response to the last one. How come? Read on …

Unpredictable disease

One reason mortgage rates might not rise as sharply this winter as last is that way more of the population is vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. And the 56% who are fully vaccinated are less likely to become seriously ill or die. So, with luck, the peak this winter, if any, could be less than half that of the last one. And that would mean half the economic damage.

Of course, if there’s one thing we know about the pandemic, it’s that it’s unpredictable. And, were a new strain to emerge that proved resistant to vaccines, this winter could be as bad as the last one. Similarly, some virus experts are worried that seasonal flu could be particularly bad this year, partly because it almost dropped out of sight in 2020-21.

Naturally, any pandemic or epidemic that undermines the economic recovery could bring lower mortgage rates. But let’s hope they don’t.

Other forces pushing mortgage rates higher

The two other main forces currently pushing mortgage rates higher are warm-hot inflation and the Federal Reserve’s plans to wind down its active support for low mortgage rates, probably starting in mid-November.

Right now, those seem highly likely to keep those rates climbing. But, of course, neither of them would exist without the pandemic. And a serious resurgence of the coronavirus or the emergence of a virulent influenza virus could kill them both dead.

However, nobody would want lower mortgage rates at the expense of the human deaths and misery those would bring.

For more information about the current influences on mortgage rates, read last Saturday’s weekend edition of these daily reports.


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. But then the trend reversed and rates rose moderately.

However, from April, those rises were mostly replaced by falls, though typically small ones. More recently, we had a couple of months when those rates barely moved. But, unfortunately, since early September we’ve been mostly seeing rises.

Freddie’s Oct. 14 report puts that weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.05% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 2.99%. Freddie Chief Economist Sam Khater remarked in a statement that day:

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to its highest point since April. As inflationary pressure builds due to the ongoing pandemic and tightening monetary policy [the Fed’s tapering], we expect rates to continue a modest upswing.

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 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 and Freddie’s were published on Oct. 15 and the MBA’s on Oct. 18.

Forecaster Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22
Fannie Mae 3.1% 3.2%  3.2% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.2% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 3.1% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

However, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.

All these forecasts expect at least modestly higher mortgage rates fairly soon.

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.

Verify your new rate (Oct 20th, 2021)

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.

Source Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Oct. 20| Rates rising is written by Peter Warden for

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