October 25, 2021

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 18, 2021

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Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates climbed again yesterday, with some breaking through the 3% barrier, according to some sources. The rise wasn’t as sharp as Tuesday’s. But it was still appreciable and unwelcome.

CNBC was last night expecting further appreciable rises in the short term. However, markets might take a bit of a breather today. And we’re expecting that mortgage rates might move only a little today. But that could change as the hours pass.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 18th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.934% 2.937% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.486% 2.495% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.897% 2.904% -0.08%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.45% 2.483% -0.05%
30 year fixed FHA 2.666% 3.342% -0.03%
15 year fixed FHA 2.456% 3.038% -0.02%
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.213% +0.01%
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.125% 2.445% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.392% +0.01%
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 (Feb 18th, 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?

Yesterday, CNBC ran a story with two pieces of unwelcome news. To quote:

  1. Interest rates are rising because of expectations for better economic growth, and they should continue to move up but moderately
  2. The 10-year Treasury yield, which impacts mortgages and other loans, rose to 1.33% early Wednesday morning and could go as high as 1.5% in the near term

The risk of this becoming a turning point for rates seems to me unacceptably high. Of course, they could fall back down. But it would probably take something momentous (see below) to return them to the all-time weekly low set on Jan. 7.

So I’m being even more cautious than usual. And my personal rate lock recommendations are changing today to:

  • 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

But, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

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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 Treasurys climbed to 1.31% from 1.29%. (Bad for mortgage rates) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were lower on 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 happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $61.45 from $59.88 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices edged lower to $1,779 from $1,783 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s 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

*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. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or just edge either side of the neutral line, probably upward.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 18th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. 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
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. 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
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

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

I’m expecting mortgage rates to end today unchanged or barely changed. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses.

We still can’t be sure that recent rises are here to stay. And it’s easy to imagine events that could send them lower again: a failure to enact the pandemic relief package, for example. Or the emergence of a vaccine-resistant strain of COVID-19.

But, absent such a game-changer, higher mortgage rates may be around for a while. That doesn’t mean they’ll continue rising as sharply as over the last couple of days. And, of course, there will be days when they fall, because small ups and downs are a constant feature of these rates. But the prospect of new all-time lows is beginning to look a distant one.

For more background on my wider thinking, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

Recently

Over the last several months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. And a new, weekly all-time low was set on 16 occasions last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent such weekly record occurred on Jan. 7, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But rates then rose. And in Freddie’s Feb. 18 report puts that weekly average at 2.81%, up from the previous week’s 2.73%, and the highest it’s been since mid-November.

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 rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. And Freddie’s and the MBA’s were published between Jan. 14 and 20, while Fannie’s were updated this morning:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.9% 2.9%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.9% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

But, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there’s certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

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 (Feb 18th, 2021)

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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.

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