Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Feb. 23 | Rates steady – The Mortgage Reports

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates rose again yesterday. And the rise was sharper than looked likely first thing that morning. When we say that markets can turn on a dime, we’re not kidding.

As those markets opened, they looked set to take a breather, with less movement than we’ve grown used to recently. But that could be the quiet before the storm ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony this morning before the Senate Finance Committee. Still, mortgage rates may hold steady or close to steady today, subject to what Powell says.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 25th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.949% 2.952% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.51% 2.519% -0.01%
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.887% 2.894% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.569% 2.593% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 2.69% 3.366% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.481% 3.063% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.213% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.128% 2.448% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.392% 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 (Feb 25th, 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?

A positive narrative has taken hold in markets as investors savor the prospect of a post-pandemic boom arriving sooner rather than later. As The New York Times’s Ben Casselman put it yesterday:

When the pandemic ends, cash could be unleashed like melting snow in the Rockies.

And it’s that brand of optimism that currently keeping mortgage rates high. Of course, there’s always a chance of some terrible news coming along and dragging those rates lower. But, absent that, it’s beginning to look as if we may be stuck with higher ones for some time to come.

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

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 nudged up to 1.35% from 1.33%. (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 $60.82 from $60.62 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices inched lower to $1,797 from $1,805 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 — Edged down to 53 from 56 out of 100. (Good 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. 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 be unchanged or barely changed.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 25th, 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 hold steady today or just inch either side of the neutral line. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses — as it did yesterday.

The same three factors continue to fuel optimism in markets:

  • A vaccination program that’s finally reaching serious numbers of Americans and that could herald brighter economic times ahead
  • Much lower COVID-19 numbers for infections, hospitalizations and deaths
  • The president’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief measures, which so far remain on track to pass into law

Of course, there are corresponding threats that could bring mortgage rates crashing lower. Fears include a sharp stock market correction and the future emergence of a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 that could prove resistant to existing vaccines. But you’d have to be exceptionally brave to rely on one of those — or some other disaster — occurring before your closing date.

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 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 rates then rose. And 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. But even that weekly average fails to take into account all the rises we saw that week, nor ones this week.

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. Fannie’s and the MBA’s were updated on Feb. 18 and 19 respectively. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly and its figures are from mid-January:

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 2.8% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

However, 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 25th, 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.

Source: themortgagereports.com