Forecast plus today's mortgage rates
Average mortgage rates fell again yesterday. You are now within striking distance of the all-time low almost a month ago. Traditional loans start today at 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage.
It's still not clear why these rates have fallen. They don't follow the markets that often shadow them. So the Federal Reserve may step in. Or maybe lenders are passing on the savings they made after the Federal Housing Agency postponed the new costs last week. (See "The FHFA Debacle" below)
Find and block current rates. (September 2, 2020)
Conventional 30 years
Conventional 15 years fixed
Conventional 5 year old ARM
Fixed FTA for 30 years
Fixed FTA for 15 years
5 years ARM FHA
30 years permanent VA
15 years fixed VA
5 years ARM VA
Your rate could be different. Click here for a personalized price offer. See our tariff assumptions here.
• COVID-19 Mortgage Updates: Mortgage lenders are changing interest rates and rules due to COVID-19. For the latest information on the impact of Coronavirus on your home loan, click here.
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Market data that will (or may not) affect today's mortgage rates
Are mortgage rates getting closer to the markets they traditionally follow? It's certainly an inconsistent relationship that is being confused by behind the scenes Federal Reserve intervention. This is currently buying mortgage bonds and so has an invisible effect on interest rates.
And the Fed's influence is not negligible. In his newsletter Yesterday morning, mortgage guru Rob Chrisman reported that the New York Federal Reserve's trading desk should have topped $ 1 trillion in mortgage-backed asset purchases that day since quantitative easing restarted on March 16.
But if you still want to orient yourself by the markets, things looked earlier this morning OK for mortgage rates today. Why? The markets (below) were mixed after the disappointing employment numbers this morning.
Here is the current status at 9:50 a.m. (ET) this morning. The dates, compared to roughly the same time yesterday morning, were:
The 10-year Treasury yield fell from 0.72% to 0.68%. (Good for mortgage rates.More than any other market, mortgage rates usually tend to follow these particular government bond yields, albeit more recently
Important stock indices were higher. (Bad for mortgage Prices.Often times, when investors buy stocks, they sell bonds, which lowers the prices of those bonds and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite happens when the indices are lower
The oil price fell from $ 43.05 to $ 42.53 (Good for mortgage rates * because energy prices play a huge role in creating inflation and also indicate future economic activity.)
Gold prices fell from $ 1,989 to $ 1,958 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates *.) In general, it is better for interest rates when gold rises and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to cut rates.
CNN Business Fear & Greed Index increased from 74 out of 100 possible points to 75 inches. (Bad for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) when they exit the bond market and invest in stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. Lower readings are therefore better than higher ones
* A few dollars change in gold prices or a matter of pennies in oil prices is a fraction of 1%. Hence, we count significant differences in mortgage rates only as good or bad.
Advice on rate lock
My recommendation reflects the success of the Fed's efforts to date to keep interest rates above average in combination with relatively harmless markets. I personally suggest:
LOCK when you approach 7th Days
LOCK when you approach fifteen Days
HOVER when you approach 30th Days
HOVER when you approach 45 Days
HOVER when you approach 60 Days
But it's entirely up to you. And you might still want to lock on days when interest rates are at or near their all-time low.
The Fed could cut rates even further in the coming weeks, though this is far from certain. And separately, persistent bad news about COVID-19 could have a similar effect on markets. (Read on to read the economists' predictions.) However, you can expect bad spots when they rise.
Equally important is that the coronavirus has created massive uncertainty – and disruptions that can defy all human efforts in the short term, including perhaps that of the Fed. So locking or hovering is a gamble in either case.
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Important Notes About Today's Mortgage Rates
Long term hope?
Last week the Federal Reserve changed its longstanding policy. From now on, promoting employment will take precedence over controlling inflation. Of course, it does not intend to stir up inflation. But the subtle shift is important.
And it could well result in low or lower interest rates (including mortgages) in the years to come. However, don't expect a smooth ride. When it comes to mortgage rates, ups and downs are all but inevitable.
A new burden for mortgage applicants
The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday reported:
Some mortgage lenders require customers who take out a mortgage to confirm that they do not intend to be lenient. This is to keep losses low during a pandemic that left millions of Americans on shaky financial grounds. The unusual requirement is in the form of a new document that is included in the closing files of many borrowers. Although the language is different, the forms generally tell borrowers not to skip payments until their loans are covered by the government. This is evident from forms verified by the Wall Street Journal.
In better news for those affected by COVID-19, the Federal Housing Financing Agency announced that it would extend moratoriums on single-family home foreclosures and property evictions until December 31 at the earliest, according to NMP Daily. This only applies to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans, which are regulated by the FHFA.
And on Monday, the FHFA said it would allow Fannie and Frddie to continue buying loans that meet their standards even if they are lenient, but only until the end of this month. That takes some pressure off some lenders.
Freddie Mac's weekly prices
Don't be surprised if Freddies and our Thursday tariff reports rarely match. First of all, the two measure different things: weekly and daily averages.
But Freddie usually only collects data on Mondays and Tuesdays each week. And they are often out of date by the day they are released.
Definitely rely on Freddie's accuracy over time. But not necessarily every day or every week.
The rate you actually get
Of course, few purchases or refinances qualify for the lowest interest rates found in some media and lender ads. These are usually only available to people with excellent credit scores, high down payments and solid finances (“top-tier borrowers” in technical jargon). And even then, the state in which you buy can affect your rate.
Before locking, however, anyone buying or refinancing can typically lose if rates go up or win if they go down.
When the moves are very small, many lenders don't bother changing their price lists. Instead, you may have to pay a little more or less to complete the compensation.
Overall, we still believe that the Federal Reserve will cut rates even further over time. And after the last meeting of its Political Committee, the organization confirmed that it plans to stick with this strategy for as long as proves necessary. At a press conference, Fed Chairman Jay Powell promised:
We strive to use all of our tools to support our economy in this challenging environment.
But there was a lot going on here before the green shoots of economic recovery emerged. Now there is more. And, as we saw earlier, the Fed can only influence part of the forces that sometimes affect mortgage rates. So nothing is insured.
Read “For once, the Fed is affecting mortgage rates. Here's why “to examine the essential details of this organization's current, temporary role in the mortgage market.
What Economists Expect from Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rate forecasts for 2020
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology seem respectable. – John Kenneth Galbraith, Harvard economist
Galbraith was clear about the economists' forecasts. But there is nothing wrong with taking them into account, appropriately seasoned with a pinch of salt. Who else are we going to ask when making financial plans?
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each have a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting the impact on the economy, housing and mortgage rates.
The latest numbers
And here are their latest predictions for the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage in each quarter (Q1, Q2 …) in 2020. In mid-August, Fannie and the MBA updated theirs. Freddies, which is now a quarterly report, was released in mid-June.
Fannie's August 17 update included a forecast an average rate of 2.9% for the fourth quarter of this year. This was the first time we had any forecast for a rate below 3.0% in 2020 from any of these organizations.
Of course, none of these quarterly forecasts exclude daily or weekly averages that are below (or above) what they propose for a quarter. Finally, quarterly averages can have some pretty sharp differences between highs and lows.
Fannie and the MBA were a little more optimistic about future interest rates in their monthly forecasts for August. And that makes Freddie's June (quarterly) look stale.
What should you conclude from this? That no one is sure about much, but that wild optimism about the direction of mortgage rates may be out of place.
The gap between forecasts is real and increases the further forecasters look ahead. Therefore, Fannie now expects that rate to average 2.8% in the first quarter of next year and drop to 2.7% for the remainder of 2021.
Freddie expects 3.2% this year. And the MBA assumes that it will be back at 3.1% in the first three quarters of 2021 and at 3.2% in the last three quarters. In fact, the MBA expects an average of 3.6% in 2022. You pay your money …
Still, all of these projections show significantly lower rates this year and next than they were in 2019, when it averaged 3.94% according to Freddie Mac's archives.
And remember, last year was the fourth lowest mortgage rate on record. Better still, this year could be an all-time low – barring shocking news. Of course, shocking news is a low bar in 2020.
Harder to get mortgages
The mortgage market is very chaotic right now. And some lenders offer significantly lower interest rates than others. When you borrow large sums, such differences can add up to thousands of dollars in a few years – more for larger loans and over longer periods of time.
Worse still, many have restricted their credit. You may find it harder to find a withdrawal refinance, investment loan, jumbo loan, or mortgage if your creditworthiness is damaged.
All of this makes it even more important than usual that you bulk buy your mortgage and compare quotes from multiple lenders.
The FHFA debacle
This is the story behind the sharp rise in mortgage rates on August 13th and 14th. If you are planning to refinance a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac backed loan, you may have to pay more for the privilege. Because the Federal Housing Agency, which regulates the two companies, has imposed new, additional closing costs.
This only applies to Fannie and Freddie refinances with a balance greater than $ 125,000. HomeReady and Home Possible refinancing are excluded from this.
Unless your loan ends before December 1st (it was September 1st before the last Tuesday), the FHFA will pay you an additional 0.5% of the loan amount to supposedly cover the additional market risk. A $ 200,000 loan increases your closing cost by $ 1,000 (divide your loan amount by 200).
This December 1 deadline is the day Fannie or Freddie actually guarantee your loan. And that can be after you close. So, if you are looking for one of their refinances and want a good chance to get under the microscope, you need to move on.
Change from FHFA – announcement August 25th
Until last Tuesday, if you had already completed your refinance but would close after August 31st, it might have been the lender who took the bill. However, mortgage banks often work with wafer-thin margins. Therefore, they passed the cost – through higher mortgage rates – to new applicants (and those who are not yet locked) on all types of mortgages. Hence the all-round higher mortgage rates after the announcement.
Last Tuesday, the FHFA gave way under pressure from the mortgage industry and lawmakers. The new fee has not been abolished. However, implementation has been postponed for three months. And that should get lenders off the hook on almost any currently frozen loan and allow them to pass the new fee straight to the affected borrowers instead of spreading the pain across all new borrowers.
It may well be that the sharp drop in average mortgage rates last Wednesday was due to these lenders adjusting to the previous day's news.
Mortgage rates traditionally improve (move down) the worse the economic outlook. Where the economy is now and where it might go is relevant to rate watchers.
The release of the minutes of the July 19th meeting of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) was sobering. In particular, they raised concerns about:
Uncertainty and long-term economic risks from the pandemic
Expiry of additional federal benefits under the Cares Act "against the background of a still weak labor market"
The coronavirus slowed the initial recovery, as it did at the beginning of summer, and moved to previously unaffected parts of the country
Possibility for banks and other lenders to tighten their lending criteria soon so that "the availability of credit for households and companies is restricted"
Fed worried about employment
Perhaps most worrying was that the minutes also said:
The projected recovery in real GDP and the pace of decline in the unemployment rate in the second half of the year are likely to be somewhat less robust than in the previous forecast.
This thinking may have influenced the Fed's decision last Thursday to relax its inflation targets. The move should keep interest rates low for a few years, which could encourage investment and boost employment.
So the FOMC painted an unfortunate picture. However, this is not the first time. And the markets seem adept at ignoring this – as long as it promises to keep pumping money into the economy. It repeated that very promise in these minutes.
COVID-19 is still a major threat
The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact are currently the biggest impact on the markets. And national trends for new infections and deaths look encouraging.
However, there are still many states, cities, areas, and neighborhoods that are hotspots with increasing infections and deaths. And we haven't seen any shocking numbers yet.
A second wave?
Now there is more cause for concern. Several countries whose outbreaks appeared to be under control a few months ago (including South Korea, Spain, Germany, France and Italy) experience new peaks in infections. As important for markets, recent economic data from Europe suggests that this could result in a slowdown in the recovery.
Is such a second wave the fate that awaits the United States and its economy after it ceases antivirus?
Third Quarter GDP
Do you need to cheer up after all this? The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s BIPnow readings suggest we could see 28.5% growth in the current third quarter, according to a September 1 update.
But this is also an annual rate. So it has to be compared to the 32.9% loss in the second quarter. And there is still time for the economy to fall behind if further lockdowns are required or if federal aid – regardless of whether it was announced by the president or a later congress package – takes a long time.
Even so, we could see a light at the end of this pitch-dark tunnel.
The markets don't seem tied to reality
Many economists warn that stock markets may underestimate both the long-term economic impact of the pandemic and its unpredictability. And some fear that we are currently in a bubble that can only cause more pain if it bursts.
But it's not just economists who are affected. According to a poll published by Deloitte last Thursday, 84% of Fortune 500 chief financial officers (CFOs) consider the US stock market to be overvalued. According to a CNN annual report, only 42% expect better economic conditions in this country within the next year.
Economic reports this week
If one economic report dominates the minds of investors, analysts, and traders, this is the monthly employment report. And that's out on Friday.
With the employment theme this week, markets may be paying more attention than usual to Wednesday's ADP employment report, which measures private sector jobs and is sometimes seen as the leitmotif for Friday's official report. Thursday's weekly unemployment figures (new claims for unemployment insurance) could also gain in importance.
Few others this week are likely to make it onto investors' radar unless they're shockingly good or bad.
Forecasts are important
Ordinarily, any economic report can move the markets as long as it contains news that is shockingly good or devastatingly bad – assuming that news is unexpected.
This is because the markets tend to evaluate the analysts' consensus predictions (hereinafter we use those reported by MarketWatch) before the reports are released. Therefore, it is usually the difference between the numbers actually reported and the forecast that has the greatest effect.
And that means that even an extreme difference between the actual values of the previous reporting period and this one can hardly have an immediate impact, provided that this difference is expected and has been taken into account in advance.
This week's calendar
T.His week's calendar of major domestic economic reports includes:
Tuesday: August ISM * manufacturing index (indeed 56.0%; Forecast 54.7%) and July Construction expenses (actually + 0.1%; forecast + 1.0%). Also, Car sales ** August will appear during the daytime when manufacturers publish their sales figures (no forecast, but 14.5 million new vehicles sold in July).
Wednesday: August ADP employment report (428,000 private sector jobs; no MarketWatch forecast, but Wall Street expects 1.17 million, according to CNBC) and July Factory orders (actually +6.4%; Forecast + 6.2%)
Thursday: Weekly new jobless claims by August 29 (forecast 950,000 new claims for unemployment insurance). July too Trade deficit (Forecast – $ 58.7 billion) and second quarter revisions productivity (Forecast 8.3%) and Unit labor costs (Forecast 10.5%) figures. Plus August ISM * service index (Forecast 57.0%)
Friday: August employment situation report, consisting of non-farm pay slips (Forecast 1.30 million new jobs), Unemployment rate (Forecast 9.8%) and average hourly wage (Forecast 0.0% – unchanged)
* ISM is the Institute for Supply Management, the body that conducts the survey and compiles the numbers
** These numbers are seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAARs). In other words, they show what would happen if the data for the reporting period were replicated for 12 consecutive months or four consecutive quarters. It sounds strange, but it can be a useful measure provided you understand what you're looking for
Friday is the big day of this week.
Rate lock recommendation
The basis for my proposal
Unlike on exceptionally good days, I suggest you Lock if you are less than 15 days after closing. However, we're looking at a personal judgment on a risk score here: Do the dangers outweigh the potential rewards?
At the moment, the Fed seems to be mostly on the ball (although the surge since interventions began has shown the limits of its power). And I think it will probably stay that way, at least in the medium term.
But that doesn't mean that there won't be any disruptions along the way. It is entirely possible that mortgage rates will rise during times when not all of them are controllable by the Fed.
So I propose a 15 day cutoff. In my opinion, this optimizes your chances of riding inclines and taking advantage of falls. But it's really just a personal view.
Only you can choose
And of course, financially conservative borrowers may want to lock up immediately, almost regardless of when they close. After all, current mortgage rates are near extraordinary lows and much is secured.
On the flip side, risk takers might prefer to take their time and seize an opportunity in the event of future falls. But only you can decide what risk you are personally comfortable with.
If you're still floating, stay vigilant until you lock. Make sure your lender is ready to act as soon as you hit the button. And continue to watch mortgage rates closely.
When should you block anyway?
You may still want to put your loan on hold if you are buying a home and have a higher debt-to-income ratio than most. In fact, you should be more inclined to lock up as interest rate hikes could destroy your mortgage approval. As you refinance it becomes less critical and you can potentially play and hover.
When your graduation is weeks or months away, the decision to lock or float becomes complicated. Obviously, if you know rates are rising, you want to lock yourself in as soon as possible. However, the longer your lock, the higher your upfront cost. On the other hand, if a higher interest rate wiped out your mortgage approval, you probably want to lock yourself in, even if it costs more.
If you're still floating, keep in close touch with your lender.
At one time, in this daily article, we provided information on the extra help borrowers can get during the pandemic as they near close.
You can still access all of this information and more in a new, standalone article:
What causes interest rates to rise and fall?
In normal times (not now), mortgage rates are highly dependent on investor expectations. Good economic news tends to be bad for interest rates, as an active economy raises concerns about inflation. Inflation causes fixed income assets like bonds to decline in value and their returns (another way of saying interest rates) to rise.
For example, let's say you bought a $ 1,000 bond two years ago and paid 5% interest ($ 50) every year. (This is known as the "Coupon Rate" or "Par Rate" because you paid $ 1,000 for a $ 1,000 bond and because the interest rate is the same as the rate shown on the bond – 5% in this case).
Your Interest Rate: $ 50 APR / $ 1,000 = 5.0%
When interest rates fall
That's a pretty good price today, so many investors will want to buy it from you. You can sell your $ 1,000 bond for $ 1,200. The buyer receives the same $ 50 per year in interest that you received. It's still 5% of the $ 1,000 voucher. However, since he paid more for the bond, his return is less.
Your Buyer's Interest Rate: $ 50 APR / $ 1,200 = 4.2%
The buyer receives an interest rate or a return of only 4.2%. And so, when the demand for bonds increases and bond prices rise, interest rates fall.
When interest rates go up
However, when the economy warms, the inflationary potential makes bonds less attractive. When fewer people want to buy bonds, their prices go down and then interest rates go up.
Imagine you have your $ 1,000 bond but you can't sell it for $ 1,000 because unemployment has fallen and stock prices are rising. You will end up with $ 700. The buyer gets the same $ 50 a year in interest, but the return looks like this:
50 USD annual interest / 700 USD = 7.1%
The buyer's interest rate is now just over 7%. Interest rates and returns are not a mystery. You calculate them using simple math.
Mortgage Rates FAQ
What are today's mortgage rates?
The average mortgage interest rate today is only 2.875% (2.875% APR) for a 30-year conventional fixed rate loan. Of course, your own interest rate will likely be higher or lower depending on factors like your down payment, creditworthiness, loan type, and more.
Are mortgage rates rising or falling?
Mortgage rates have been extremely volatile recently due to the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy. Interest rates fell recently when the Fed announced generally low interest rates for the next two years. However, if there is another surge in mortgage applications or if the economy starts to pick up again, rates could easily rise again.
Mortgage rate method
The mortgage reports receive interest rates based on selected criteria from multiple credit partners on a daily basis. We find an average rate and an annual interest rate for each type of loan that we want to show on our chart. Since we calculate a series of average prices, this will give you a better idea of what you might find in the market. We also calculate average interest rates for the same types of loans. For example, FHA was fixed with FHA. The end result is a good snapshot of the daily rates and how they change over time.
Check your new plan (September 2, 2020)