January 19, 2022

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Mortgage and refinance rates today, May 28, 2021

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Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates rose moderately yesterday. But that wiped out only about half the gains made over the preceding days’ falls. So things are still good.

Markets are closed next Monday for Memorial Day. So we’ll see you for our weekend edition tomorrow, and then next Tuesday.

Many investors and traders are probably already in long-weekend mode. So it would be no surprise if markets were quiet, in spite of important economic data being published this morning. And, so far, mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or just inch either side of the neutral line.

Find and lock a low rate (May 28th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.961% 2.961% +0.04%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.235% 2.235% +0.04%
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.788% 2.788% +0.02%
Conventional 10 year fixed 1.97% 2.009% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 2.806% 3.464% +0.06%
15 year fixed FHA 2.475% 3.076% +0.04%
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.188% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.375% 2.547% +0.04%
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.366% 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 (May 28th, 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?

Nothing’s changed. I’m still expecting to see higher mortgage rates shortly. But still don’t know when.

Personally, I’d lock soon based on a risk-and-reward assessment. Of course, you may get away with floating for much longer and continuing to gain.

But your rewards are likely to be limited while your exposure to risk could be much more significant. Naturally, it’s relatively low risk to continue to float on days when mortgage rates look likely to hold steady or fall.

So my personal, overall rate lock recommendations must 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 Treasurys edged down to 1.60% from 1.62%. (Good 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 higher on 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
  • Oil prices climbed to $67.16 from $66.35 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity. 
  • Gold prices rose to $1,902 from $1,895 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
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — increased to 43 from 39 out of 100. (Bad 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, so far mortgage rates today look likely to be unmoved or barely moved However, be aware that intraday swings (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find and lock a low rate (May 28th, 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. 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

On May 26, The Wall Street Journal reflected on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s thinking:

Mr. Powell thinks that for inflation to become a problem requires some combination of an overheating economy and the public’s expectations of inflation shooting up. With employment far below its prepandemic level, he thinks that won’t happen for years. Yet it isn’t out of the question, and in that event the Fed, even under Mr. Powell’s new framework, would have to tighten monetary policy, which could roil markets and the economy. Many on Wall Street and some economists, led by Harvard University’s Lawrence Summers, an adviser to past Democratic presidents, think this is a bigger risk than Mr. Powell realizes.

— WSJ, “Jerome Powell’s Fate Is Critical to Biden Presidency” (paywall), May 26, 2021

Now, that’s a masterly summary of where we currently are. “Many on Wall Street and some economists” think the Fed and the White House are underestimating the threat of future inflation. And, if enough join them to create a tipping point, and the public ends up sharing their fears, then it won’t matter who’s right. Because inflation will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Either way, inflation pretty much inevitably means higher — perhaps sharply higher — mortgage rates.

Biden budget

And even if the fear of inflation evaporates, the expected boom this year is likely to push those rates up, though probably more moderately. Thathat boom looks set to be even more likely from today, according to The New York Times:

President Biden will propose a $6 trillion budget on Friday that would take the United States to its highest sustained levels of federal spending since World War II as he looks to fund a sweeping economic agenda that includes large new investments in education, transportation and fighting climate change.

— NYT, “Biden to Propose $6 Trillion Budget to Make U.S. More Competitive” (paywall), May 27, 2021

Data published this morning shows inflation (in the form of the core personal consumption expenditure index) currently running warmer than expected, “posting its biggest year-on-year rise since the 1990s,” according to The Financial Times.

Mortgage rates and inflation: Why are rates going up?

For more background, check out our latest weekend edition of this 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, when it stood at 2.65% for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. But then the trend reversed and rates rose.

However, those rises were mostly replaced by falls in April, though those moderated during the second half of that month. Meanwhile, May has so far seen falls outweighing rises, though only slightly. Freddie’s May 27 report puts that weekly average at 2.95% (with 0.6 fees and points), down from the previous week’s 3.0%.

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 the remaining quarters of 2021 (Q2/21, Q3/21, Q4/21) and the first quarter of 2022 (Q1/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s were updated on May 19 and the MBA’s on May 21. Freddie’s forecast is dated April 14. But it now updates only quarterly. So expect its numbers to begin to look stale soon.

Forecaster Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21 Q1/22
Fannie Mae 3.0% 3.1%  3.2% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.2% 3.3%  3.4% 3.5%
MBA 3.1% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

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

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 (May 28th, 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.

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