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Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Dec. 22| Rates steady-ish

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Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose yesterday. And they went higher than I was expecting. Still, they remain well below the high for the last 30 days.

First thing this morning, mortgage rates today looked likely to hold steady or just inch either side of the neutral line. But that might change as the day progresses.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 23rd, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.345% 3.368% +0.05%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.497% 2.531% +0.01%
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.102% 3.134% -0.05%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.611% 2.681% +0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 3.374% 4.14% +0.05%
15 year fixed FHA 2.593% 3.24% +0.01%
5/1 ARM FHA 2.229% 3.124% +0.01%
30 year fixed VA 2.96% 3.149% -0.22%
15 year fixed VA 2.934% 3.283% +0.1%
5/1 ARM VA 2.5% 2.52% +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.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Markets seem to be largely shrugging off the economic threats posed by the new Omicron variant of COVID–19. But for how long can they keep that up?

I’m guessing it won’t be long. So, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • FLOAT if closing in 7 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

>Related: 7 Tips to get the best refinance rate

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 Treasury notes inched down to 1.46% from 1.47%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were higher soon after 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. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices rose to $71.18 from $70.42 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices edged lower to $1,793 from $1,795 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is 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 33 from 30 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, mortgage rates today might be unchanged or barely changed. However, be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 23rd, 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. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed

So a lot is 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?

In spite of mortgage rates rising over the last couple of days, I’m still guessing that they’ll fall again fairly soon. Why?

Well, because the Omicron variant seems to me highly likely to cause some economic damage. And markets can’t ignore that for long.

Part of the reason for yesterday’s rise in mortgage rates might have been President Joe Biden’s assurances that day that there were no plans for lockdowns or harsh restrictions of the sorts we saw earlier in the pandemic. However, as The New York Times reported:

In interviews on Tuesday, some scientists argued that the variant’s rapid spread requires more vigorous mitigation measures. Some expressed frustration and alarm about what they described as a timid public health response, and bemoaned the apparent lack of will among politicians and society at large for more aggressive steps.

— NYT, “Covid News: Scientists Warn Omicron Will Surge and Say Biden’s Plan Is Insufficient” (paywall), Dec. 21, 2021

Omicron uncertainty

Of course, it’s essential to remember that nobody’s yet sure just how medically damaging Omicron’s going to be. We know that it spreads much more quickly than earlier variants. But we won’t know for days or weeks just how resistant it is to vaccines and past infections, nor how severe typical cases might be.

But, if we look to Europe (which is weeks ahead of us in terms of Omicron infections) for clues, the signs aren’t great. Take France, for example. There, daily infections have soared over the last month and Covid–related deaths have doubled, according to Reuters.

And yet France has very high vaccination rates: 89.2% of the population age 12 and over had had two doses as of yesterday, including 34.4% who had also had booster shots, according to French government data. The equivalent figures for the United States are 62% and 18%.

Many European governments are being forced to impose stricter anti–coronavirus measures. And those inevitably have negative economic consequences.

Do markets believe that America’s Omicron experience will be different from Europe’s? Or are they choosing to wait for a new wave of COVID–19 to hit us before responding to it?

Either way, I suspect that they’ll soon be faced with reality. And, if I’m right, mortgage rates will begin falling again.

For more background, read Saturday’s weekend edition of this daily report.

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.

Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.

Freddie’s Dec. 16 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.12% (with 0.6 fees and points), slightly up from the previous week’s 3.10%.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts – updated today

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

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie’s were published on Dec. 20 and the MBA’s on Dec. 21.

Freddie’s were released on Oct. 15. It now updates its forecasts only quarterly. So we may not get another from it until January. And its figures are already looking stale.

Forecaster Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22
Fannie Mae 3.1% 3.1%  3.2% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.2% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 3.1% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

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

And none of these forecasters had any idea that Omicron might entirely change the models on which they’re based.

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.

Show me today’s rates (Dec 23rd, 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.

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.



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