Forecast plus today's mortgage rates
As we feared, average mortgage rates rose noticeably yesterday. They are now the highest in August, but below average in the last half of July. So you are still above average. VA loans start today at 2.25% (2.421% APR) for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
It's been a while since we've seen mortgage rates soar. And nobody knows if it will be the first of many sustained gains or just one of these days. If I were to place a bet I would bet that it was a one-time event that only lasted two or three days. I think it will take crucial good economic news to trigger a sustained period of growth. But my betting record is the reason I stay away from Vegas.
Find and block current rates. (August 24, 2020)
|Conventional 30 years||3.25||3.25||+ 0.19%|
|Conventional 15 years fixed||3.125||3.125||Unchanged|
|Conventional 5 year old ARM||5||3,514||Unchanged|
|Fixed FTA for 30 years||2.25||3.226||Unchanged|
|Fixed FTA for 15 years||2.25||3.191||Unchanged|
|5 years ARM FHA||2.75||3,346||+ 0.05%|
|30 years permanent VA||2.25||2,421||-0.51%|
|15 years fixed VA||2.25||2.571||Unchanged|
|5 years ARM VA||2.5||2,433||Unchanged|
|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.
In this article (jump to …)
Market data that will (or may not) affect today's mortgage rates
Are mortgage rates returning more closely to the markets they traditionally follow? It is certainly an inconsistent relationship that is being confused by the Federal Reserve's interventions behind the scenes. This is currently buying mortgage bonds and thus has an invisible effect on interest rates.
But if you still want to orient yourself by the markets, that's how things are look again Bad for mortgage rates today. Why? Investors see cause for optimism about the recovery.
Here is the current status at 9:50 a.m. (ET) this morning. The dates, compared to about the same time yesterday, were:
- The 10-year Treasury yield continued from 0.64% to 0.67%. ((Bad 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 mostly much 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 $ 42.66 to $ 42.35 a barrel (Neutral for mortgage rates * because energy prices play a huge role in creating inflation and also indicate future economic activity.)
- Gold prices fell from $ 1,963 an ounce to $ 1,947. ((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 dropped from 75 out of 100 possible points to 73. ((Good 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 only count significant differences in mortgage rates as good or bad.
Advice on rate lock
My recommendation reflects the success so far of the Fed's measures to maintain above-average interest rates. 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, although 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
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.
Higher rates to deter demand
There may soon be a repeat of a phenomenon that occurred earlier this year. When this happens, the lender's offices are so overwhelmed by the demand for mortgages and refinances that they cannot handle them.
In the latest figures for the week ending July 24, the Mortgage Bankers Association calculated: "The refinancing index is down 0.4 percent from the previous week and 121 percent higher than the same week a year ago." Processing more than twice as many applications as in normal times must be a major challenge.
To try to scare off some of the excessive demand, lenders can artificially increase the interest rates they offer. This is the only way they can prevent their people from drowning in paperwork.
And neither the markets nor the Fed can influence how this part of the pricing mechanism affects mortgage rates.
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. So you can rely on Freddie's accuracy over time, but not necessarily every day or every week.
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 MBA each have a team of economists devoted to monitoring and forecasting the impact on the economy, housing, and mortgage rates.
And here are her latest predictions for the average rate on a 30 year fixed-rate mortgage in each quarter (Q1, Q2 …) of 2020. Fannie updated his forecasts on July 14th and updated the MBA the following day. Freddies, which is now a quarterly report, was released in mid-June.
As a result, none of the forecasters expects a quarterly average below the 3.0% mark this year. Of course, this does not rule out daily or weekly averages that are below this level in a quarter. Finally, quarterly averages can have some pretty sharp differences between highs and lows.
Both Fannie and the MBA were a bit more optimistic about interest rates in their (monthly) July forecasts. 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. Fannie now expects that rate to average 2.9% in the first half of next year and drop to 2.8% in the second half.
Freddie expects 3.2% this year. And the MBA assumes that it will be 3.4% again in the first half of 2021 and 3.5% in the second. The MBA assumes that it will average 3.7% 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 amounts, such differences can add up to several thousand 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.
Mortgage rates traditionally improve (move down) the worse the economic outlook. Where the economy is now and where it could go is relevant to rate watchers.
The President's weekend announcements
To overcome the partisan congestion in Congress, President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders and memoranda over the weekend.
Some hoped the president's initiative could be a catalyst for lawmakers on Capitol Hill who failed to come up with their own stimulus package. But no. Though the Senate remains in session, a very small number of DC lawmakers remain.
The measures are set to boost the economy, mostly by providing $ 300 weekly benefits to the unemployed (the White House made it clear yesterday that only some could receive $ 400) and by suspending wage tax payments for those on less earnings , for the last four months of this year being about $ 100,000.
Another order seeks to reduce the number of evictions the pandemic could cause. And a fourth could help those who pay student loans.
These measures have to overcome two hurdles. First, the experts disagree on the legality and constitutionality of the initiatives. And when he announced it, the President himself admitted that some of his actions could be challenged in court.
Second, some point to practical issues that could undermine the measures. Last but not least is the time it might take to implement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said yesterday that he hoped unemployment benefits could start "within the next week or two". But some doubt the likelihood of it.
And there are other practical questions. The money will appear to come from FEMA funds of $ 44 billion, leaving this agency with limited resources to deal with a future disaster. However, some say $ 44 billion will fund the president's program for less than five weeks. And this program would only help those on $ 100 or more in government unemployment benefits and leave the hardest hit with no additional help.
The income tax initiative is at least as full. Employers are asked to suspend withholding tax for these four months. However, there are concerns that many are not cooperating.
This is because their employees continue to owe the tax regardless of whether it is withheld or not. And they won't be grateful when faced with huge bills next year. Employers are also legally liable for deficits that arise because taxes are not properly withheld.
So many can protect themselves and their employees by creating escrow accounts into which withheld taxes are paid – or at least waiting for the details of the program to be clearer. And that would undermine the aim of the Executive Ordinance to quickly put more money in the pockets of consumers.
The president hopes that the tax not withheld will eventually be forgiven. But that's not currently in his gift.
Minor measures and their problems
The eviction only instructs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “consider” the need to further suspend the evictions. It has no immediate effect.
A fourth initiative waived interest on student loans for a period and suspended the collection of principal payments.
Politics is a growing issue
The threats to the economy posed by the current congressional deadlock are obvious. And you can see why the president wanted to intervene.
There can be good ideological and long-term economic reasons for discontinuing additional unemployment benefits. However, in the short term, this could affect millions, including those who don't receive it directly.
Most obviously, landlords may not receive their rents and face the expense of evicting tenants and finding new tenants while they are unable to pay their own mortgages. And lenders (those offering credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, etc., and mortgages) could find defaults, redemptions, and foreclosures across broad populations.
Equally important, some economists caution that waning federal benefits could hurt consumer spending, which could quickly affect the overall economy. On August 3, the Financial Times had the headline "US Economy at Risk as Unemployment Benefit Expires".
Consumers are key to the US economy
Do you think the Financial Times exaggerated? Maybe. However, the US economy relies heavily on consumer spending for growth.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, personal consumption expenditure contributed 67.1% to total gross domestic product in the second quarter of 2020. You might think that getting rid of the now-expired $ 600 weekly unemployment benefit is likely to hit this hard.
Even ignoring human misery, political paralysis could prove costly to the economy. In the meantime, a small business aid program expired last Saturday.
COVID-19 is still a major threat
This pandemic and its economic impact are currently the biggest impact on the markets. Last Saturday, the nation reached a new, gruesome milestone when the total number of infections hit 5 million.
But after all, there may be a hint of good news in the numbers. As of July 31, the New York Times reports that the number of new infections has changed negatively in the past 14 days: -18% yesterday. Of course, the actual numbers are still appalling, and 53,334 Americans were newly diagnosed yesterday. But that number was constant at over 60,000 until recently.
Unfortunately, deaths remain at terrible levels. Yesterday the number was 1,450. However, according to the Times, Monday's 14-day change in deaths turned negative for the first time in ages. It was -7% yesterday. So there are better trends for both infections and deaths. We must now hope that it will stay that way as the rules on social distancing and face masks are relaxed.
But there are still many states and cities that continue to be hot spots with increasing infections and deaths. In a virus briefing at the White House on July 21, President Donald Trump warned:
Unfortunately, it will likely get worse before it gets better. Something I don't like to say about things, but it is.
Although the COVID-19 news dominates both broadly and in the markets, there is still room for other fears. There are currently great concerns about trade and external relations with China.
As the Financial Times suggested on July 24th:
Tensions between the world's two superpowers have soared to their most dangerous levels in decades when the coronavirus pandemic in the US and Beijing affected Hong Kong’s autonomy.
And that was before newer tensions emerged. This includes the president who plays hardball over Tik-Tok and WeChat. Yesterday, on Monday, China announced sanctions against a number of US officials, including Senators Cruz and Rubio.
The main economic data has been looking good lately. But you have to see them in their wider context.
First, they follow catastrophic lows. They expect record profits after record losses.
Second, the pandemic is far from over. Some states are still recording staggering numbers of new cases and deaths.
While good news is more than welcome, it can mask the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked on the economy.
Some concerns that still apply are:
- We are currently officially in a recession
- Unemployment is expected to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. New unemployment insurance claims last week totaled 1.19 million, significantly better than the 1.43 million the previous week. However, this was the 20th week in a row that new claims exceeded the million mark. And all of these would have been unthinkably high numbers at the beginning of the year
- The first official estimate of the gross domestic product in the second quarter showed an annualized decline of 32.9%. If you look at the second quarter in isolation (not annualized), the decline in economic output over those three months was about 9.5%
- Ön June 1stThe Congressional Budget Office reduced its expectations for US growth over the period between 2020 and 2030. Compared to its January forecast, the CBO now expects America to miss $ 7.9 trillion in growth this decade
The chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Gita Gopinath, said some time ago: “We are definitely not out of the woods. This is a crisis like no other and will recover like no other. "
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 20.5% growth in the third quarter, according to an August 7 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 bans are required or if federal benefits – whether announced by the president or a subsequent congressional package – take a long time to implement.
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. James Knightley, chief economist at ING International, was quoted by CNN Business on August 2nd as saying:
Given mounting virus fear, job loss and pressure on incomes, we believe the recovery could be a lot bumpier than the markets seem and believe we anticipate some data disappointment over the next few months have to.
Economic reports this week
It's another busy week for economic reports. And Friday is the day to watch out for.
It is true that there were measures of inflation earlier. But it's been a long time since they looked worrying, though some economists believe they might do it again soon. Today's consumer price index and Tuesday's producer price index haven't allayed fears.
Friday brings retail sales, industrial production and the consumer sentiment index.
Investors will also keep an eye on Thursday's weekly unemployment rate. If these fall below the million mark, we could easily see higher mortgage rates.
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 have little 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:
- Monday: Nothing
- Tuesday: July Producer price index for final demand (actually + 0.6%; forecast + 0.3%)
- Wednesday: July Consumer price index (actually +0.6%; Forecast + 0.4%) and Core CPI * (actually + 0.6%; forecast + 0.2%).
- Thursday: Weekly new jobless claims by August 8 (forecast 1.08 million new claims for unemployment insurance)
- Friday: July Retail sales (Forecast + 2.0%) and Retail sales minus cars (Forecast + 1.1%). Plus July industrial production (Forecast + 2.5%) and Capacity utilization ** (Forecast 70.4%). And August Consumer sentiment index (Forecast 71.9 index points)
* The core CPI is the volatile consumer price index Food and energy prices moved out.
** Capacity utilization is the Percentage of the country's production and manufacturing capacity that is actually used.
As is often the case, 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 assessment here: Do the dangers outweigh the possible rewards?
At the moment, the Fed seems to be mostly on the ball (although the surge since the start of its interventions 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 at or near record 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 called the "coupon rate" or "face value" because you paid $ 1,000 on 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 therefore, 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 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 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 (August 24, 2020)