Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 8, 2021

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates inched higher again last Friday. Although last week saw mostly rises, each movement was small. And these rates remain exceptionally low.

First thing, it was looking as if mortgage rates might rise again today. Yesterday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan could generate enough growth to restore full employment by next year, according to AP. And such optimism tends to increase these rates.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 10th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.8% 2.8% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.362% 2.362% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.743% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 2.438% 3.415% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.375% 3.317% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.201% -0.01%
30 year fixed VA 2.375% 2.547% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.063% 2.382% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.379% -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 10th, 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?

The overwhelming characteristic surrounding the mortgage market is uncertainty. And the associated rates are responding to alternating optimism and pessimism over the pandemic and the economy as news reports emerge and recede.

Recently, optimism has been stronger than pessimism, leading to a succession of rate rises. And, while that sentiment could turn on a dime, it might not.

So I’d suggest caution. And my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT 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 about the same time last Friday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys increased to 1.18% from 1.14%. (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 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 happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices eased up to $57.46 from $57.11 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 rose to $1,833 from $1,803 an ounce. (Good 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 up to 61 from 59 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. 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 increase.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 10th, 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 move higher today. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses.

We’ve been seeing a lot more rises in mortgage rates than falls over the last 10 days or so. They’ve mostly been down to hopes surrounding the Biden administration’s $1.9 billion pandemic relief proposal — and over the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Of course, such optimism could dissipate as suddenly as it appeared. Legislative hitches over the relief package might yet arise or analyses of its likely effects could turn less rosy. Worse, it’s possible that mutations in COVID-19 could make the pandemic’s economic harms even greater than currently feared.

But, for now, hopefulness seems to have set into markets. And, assuming it lasts, that could mean further rises in mortgage rates ahead.

It wouldn’t be irrational for you to gamble on the mood changing and mortgage rates falling again. But it would be just that: a gamble.

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, though only modestly. And in Freddie’s Feb. 4 report, that weekly average was 2.73%.

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 they were all published between Jan. 14 and 20:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.7% 2.7% 2.8% 2.8%
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 10th, 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

Housing, civil rights groups ask Congress for $25B

A large partnership of housing and civil rights organizations reached out on Monday to congressional leaders advocating for further relief for homeowners in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.  

The letter was signed by representatives of more than 350 housing and civil rights organizations, including American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Realtors, National Association of Home Builders and the Housing Policy Council, the NAACP, National Urban League, National Fair Housing Alliance and National Consumer Law Center.

The letter calls for $25 billion in direct assistance to homeowners facing hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, at least $100 million for housing counseling, and just under $40 million for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.

Of the approximately 3.8 million homeowners past due on their mortgages, over half of them are persons of color, according to Census Bureau.

Recent homebuyers that relied on low- or no-down payment loans from FHA, VA or the Rural Housing Service are at particular risk, the group contends, noting that even six months of forbearance can put borrowers underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their home is worth.

“Moreover, these borrowers are predominantly Black and Latinx families, first-time buyers and low to moderate-income families,” the letter says. “Mortgage payments assistance will be critically important to the nearly 3 million borrowers that remain in long-term forbearance plans from their mortgage servicers. We cannot begin to tackle the racial homeownership and wealth gaps if we do not take steps to prevent a wave of COVID-induced foreclosures and loss of home equity.”

The group is hoping the bulk of the requested $25 billion comes through the recently reintroduced Homeowner Assistance Fund, which can be used by state housing finance agencies. In the letter to Congress, the group states that the HAF can help homeowners by providing direct assistance with mortgage payments and get into affordable loan modifications, while assisting with utility payments, property tax and insurance payments, homeowner association dues and other support to prevent the loss of home equity.

The outreach from housing and civil rights groups comes at a pivotal time for the American housing industry. Recently appointed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she will play a key role in pushing the Biden administration’s economic agenda on Capitol Hill – which includes aggressive aid distribution in order to avoid an even longer recession.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly said his administration is focused on providing aid for those in need of affordable housing, and his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was recently voted into the budget reconciliation process in order to speed up passage. The plan calls for an additional $30 billion in funding for emergency rental, energy and water assistance for hard-hit households, plus $5 billion in emergency assistance to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

All of this at a time in the country where Black homeownership has declined year-over-year, according to a recent Census Bureau report, and the percentage of Americans experiencing housing insecurity has risen to 9.5% – up from 7.2% in late 2020.

“A critical lesson of the Great Recession is that the communities most impacted need targeted, early intervention,” the group wrote in the letter. “Acting now to include these key provisions in the pending COVID-19 relief package will help stem what could be a damaging housing crisis in the U.S. concentrated in low income communities and communities of color.”

Source: housingwire.com

Stock Market Today: Markets Tumble, But ‘Reddit Stocks’ Story Isn’t Over

Today, let’s start with the elephant in the news feed: GameStop (GME) and a number of other momentum stocks commanded most of Wall Street’s attention on Wednesday even as the major indices took a considerable skid.

If you need to catch up on exactly what’s been happening, check out our primer on this sudden battle between hedge funds and traders from the social app Reddit. (In short, individual traders are flooding into heavily bet-against stocks to make them explode higher.)

GameStop shares surged another 134.8% on Wednesday to bring their year-to-date gains to roughly 1,730%, while theatre chain AMC Entertainment (AMC) jumped 301.2% in a single day. Nokia (NOK, +40.2%), BlackBerry (BB, +32.7%) and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY, +43.5%) were among others that were ginned up.

The movement in GME and AMC specifically was so wild that TD Ameritrade and Schwab restricted certain trades in those shares. And in fact, White House press secretary Jen Psaki admitted that Secretary Janet Yellen was “monitoring the situation” with GME and some of these other stocks.

Most of the rest of the market? Not so lucky.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-2.1% to 30,303), S&P 500 (-2.6% to 3,750) and Nasdaq Composite (-2.6% to 13,270) all finished well off their recent highs, dogged by losses from the likes of Boeing (BA, -4.0%), Alphabet (GOOGL, -4.7%) and Disney (DIS, -4.0%).

Other action in the stock market today.

  • The Russell 2000 plunged 1.9% to 2,108.
  • Gold futures fell yet again, declining 0.2% to $1,844.90 per ounce.
  • U.S. crude oil futures improved by 0.5% to $52.85 per barrel.
  • Bitcoin prices, at $31,981 on Tuesday, edged 0.1% lower to $31,629. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 012721stock chart for 012721

What’s Weighing on the Markets?

The Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate near zero, though “(Fed Chair Jerome) Powell reiterated the Fed’s accommodative policy stance and pointed out that the economy is still in the early stages of recovery,” says Charlie Ripley, Senior Investment Strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “Moreover, the committee acknowledged that downside risks still remain as the progress on vaccinations could determine the pace of the recovery in the coming months.”

The continued spread of mutant COVID strains worldwide is a constant reminder of what the economy needs to overcome, too.

But the problem might also be technical in nature.

“Some areas of the market are now very extended / overbought on the charts – this leaves them vulnerable to quick and violent pullbacks over the short-run,” says Dan Wantrobski, technical strategist and associate director of research at Janney Montgomery Scott, who adds that “broader market breadth has started to deteriorate – this is a notable divergence and serves as a mild warning that we may see more elevated volatility ahead.”

At the moment, it’s difficult to tell whether this is a big blip, or the start of a deeper short-term trench that some analysts have been calling for.

Buy-and-holders: Keep watching the show. Opportunists: Many of these value stocks went on sale today. Those seeking safety: You’ll often find it in yield-friendly equity sectors such as consumer staples and utilities, or fixed-income funds.

No matter which direction you turn, low-cost ETFs are the tool to reach for – take your pick from the best ETFs for 2021. Whether you want to use this dip to build your core or jump into aggressive positions or protect yourself against additional downside, this “Swiss Army list” of funds has something for everyone.

Source: kiplinger.com

Bodnar of MMG: 3 Reasons Yields Remain Elevated

Bill Bodnar of The Mortgage Market Guide (MMG) said stocks enjoyed the Janet Yellen rally as she told the Senate to “go big” on the new stimulus plan, while rates remain low. He adds that this news has consequences for you and your clients.

Watch the short video to see three reasons why yields remain elevated in an era of never-ending stimulus.

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Source: themortgageleader.com

Yellen wins confirmation to become first woman as Treasury chief

Janet Yellen was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the country’s 78th Treasury secretary and the first woman to hold the job, putting her in charge of overseeing an economy that continues to be hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Senate approved Yellen in a 84-15 vote on Monday, making her among the first of President Joe Biden’s cabinet picks to be confirmed. She will become only the second American to have been both Federal Reserve chair and Treasury secretary.

The 74-year-old was also the first woman to head the U.S. central bank, which she left in early 2018 after overseeing a winding back of monetary stimulus after the last recession and its slow recovery. Now, she’s back in crisis-fighting mode, this time as a Democratic administration’s top economic official.

Janet Yellen speaks during an event at the Queen Theater on December 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Delaware.

Alex Wong/Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Im

Yellen’s top priority will be to stoke a recovery that’s weakened amid record Covid-19 deaths, by helping sell the $1.9 trillion Biden stimulus plan that’s run into resistance from GOP lawmakers. She will also help to shape policy toward China after the Trump administration’s legacy of confrontation and tariff hikes.

Other objectives include addressing the economic risks of climate change, with plans to set up a “hub” at the Treasury looking at the issue. She will also be responsible for tax policy, sanctions, the administration’s stance on the dollar, financing the government and ensuring the stability of the financial system.

“The symbolism and sense of technical expertise and decades of Washington experience that Janet Yellen brings will bring immediate credibility” to Biden’s economic agenda, said Tim Adams, who served as a Treasury undersecretary during the George W. Bush administration and now heads the Institute of International Finance, a banking group. “Yellen will be a key anchor of the economic team.”

Yellen has been a trailblazer throughout her career: She was the only woman out of 24 students in 1971 to earn a doctorate in economics from Yale University. She later taught economics at Harvard, and worked for more than 16 years at the Fed, including a stint as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco during the financial crisis.

Brooklyn, New York-born Yellen follows Jimmy Carter appointee G. William Miller, who also served as Treasury secretary after being Fed chair. She’ll be the first to have had both those jobs and head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a role she had in the Clinton administration.

She had an early look at the challenges of the new job in her confirmation hearing at the Senate Finance panel last week. Her argument that it’s critical to “act big” now with emergency deficit spending to avoid long-term “scarring” in the economy was rejected by Republican lawmakers voicing concerns about rising debt.

“Right now, short term, I feel that we can afford what it takes to get the economy back on its feet, to get us through the pandemic,” Yellen told the committee. She highlighted the opportunity presented by historically low interest rates, and flagged that debt-servicing payments as a share of the economy are lower today than before the 2008 financial crisis.

It’s not just Republicans raising questions on Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal. White House economic adviser Brian Deese was asked in a Sunday call with lawmakers from both parties for the basis of such a large package coming on the heels of the $900 billion pandemic relief bill approved last month. GOP members have also been vociferous in criticizing Biden’s inclusion of social safety-net measures such as a minimum wage hike, which they have long opposed.

Another near-term priority for Biden and Yellen is filling several senior positions at the Treasury. The president nominated Wally Adeyemo, who worked in the Obama administration, to be the deputy secretary, a position that requires Senate confirmation. But nominations are still to come for key undersecretary and assistant secretary jobs, among others.

The president has offered Nellie Liang, a Fed veteran and expert in financial regulation, the job of undersecretary for domestic finance, people familiar with the matter said last week, though no public announcement has been made. No Senate-confirmed person has been in the job since 2014, despite its importance in overseeing the issuance of U.S. government debt.

The Treasury earlier Monday announced other staffing appointments, including for Mark Mazur, who will join as a deputy assistant secretary for tax policy in the legislative affairs office. Natalie Earnest, who was chief spokesperson for the Treasury during the Obama administration, will be a counselor to Yellen.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com