What’s driving current mortgage rates?
Mortgage rates today did not get the benefit of any scheduled economic reports, which is typical for Mondays. In addition, early morning financial data has provided no real reason for rates to change. This is unusual — individual lenders may move rates around more than once a day when things are volatile.
Things have been so stable, however, that average rates are not moving very much.Verify your new rate (Aug 20th, 2018)
Today’s mortgage rates
|Conventional 30 yr Fixed||3.750||3.750||Unchanged|
|Conventional 15 yr Fixed||3.250||3.250||Unchanged|
|Conventional 5 yr ARM||3.375||3.830||Unchanged|
|30 year fixed FHA||3.500||4.486||Unchanged|
|15 year fixed FHA||3.125||4.072||Unchanged|
|5 year ARM FHA||3.250||4.345||Unchanged|
|30 year fixed VA||3.625||3.798||Unchanged|
|15 year fixed VA||3.250||3.559||Unchanged|
|5 year ARM VA||3.500||3.626||Unchanged|
Financial data that affect today’s mortgage rates
When there are no major financial reports, and the market don’t move much, don’t expect mortgage rates to move a great deal either. However, most of these early morning data point to either neutral or falling rates.
- Major stock indexes are down (good for rates)
- Gold prices remain unchanged at $1,278 (neutral for rates).
- Oil remains at $57 a barrel (neutral because it has not changed. However, oil over $50 is concerning, because higher energy prices play a large role in creating inflation, and last week, oil was hovering around the $50 mark)
- The yield on ten-year Treasuries retreated a single basis point (1/100th of one percent) to 2.38 percent (good for rates, but not enough to offset last week’s upward spike). It’s good news, though, because mortgage rates tend to follow Treasuries
- CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index rose 5 points to 59. This is still a neutral level, but not good because it moved in a “freedier” direction. And “greedier” investors tend to turn from stocks and to bonds and mortgage-backed securities. Higher bond prices push rates lower.
Mortgage rates today remain very favorable for anyone considering homeownership. Residential financing is still affordable.
- Monday: No scheduled economic reports
- Tuesday: Producer Price Index (PPI) for October, which economists expect to rise by .1 percent. This measures inflationary pressure at the manufacturing end of the economy. Higher is bad for rates, lower is good
- Wednesday: Consumer price Index (CPI) for October, also expected in increase by .1 percent. It is like the PPI, but for retail pricing, which consumers pay. We’ll also get the Retail Sales, which analysts expect to remain unchanged.
- Thursday: This is a full day — Weekly Jobless Claims (expected to be 239k), Industrial Production and Utilization (higher is better for rates, expect .4% increase and 76.2 level). The NAHB also announces its Home Builders Index.
- Friday: Housing Starts report expects to announce 1.2 billion new groundbreakings.
Rate lock recommendation
Mortgage rates are barely moving these days, so it’s fairly safe to stretch a lock if it makes sense. If you are closing in, say, 16 days, you might want to wait a day or two and get a 15-day rather than a more-expensive 30-day lock. If you’re closing in 32 days, it’s probably worth holding out for a 30-day timeline.
In general, 30-day is the standard price most lenders will (should) quote you. The 15-day option should get you a discount, and locks over 30 days usually cost more.
If you want to “set it and forget it,” though, current mortgage rates are attractive enough to make that an okay move.
- 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
What causes rates to rise and fall?
Mortgage interest rates depend on a great deal on the expectations of investors. Good economic news tends to be bad for interest rates, because an active economy raises concerns about inflation. Inflation causes fixed-income investments like bonds to lose value, and that causes their yields (another way of saying interest rates) to increase.
For example, suppose that two years ago, you bought a $1,000 bond paying five percent interest ($50) each year. (This is called its “coupon rate.”) That’s a pretty good rate today, so lots of investors want to buy it from you. You sell your $1,000 bond for $1,200.
When rates fall
The buyer gets the same $50 a year in interest that you were getting. However, because he paid more for the bond, his interest rate is not five percent.
- Your interest rate: $50 annual interest / $1,000 = 5.0%
- Your buyer’s interest rate: $50 annual interest / $1,200 = 4.2%
The buyer gets an interest rate, or yield, of only 4.2 percent. And that’s why, when demand for bonds increases and bond prices go up, interest rates go down.
When rates rise
However, when the economy heats up, the potential for inflation makes bonds less appealing. With fewer people wanting to buy bonds, their prices decrease, and then interest rates go up.
Imagine that you have your $1,000 bond, but you can’t sell it for $1,000, because unemployment has dropped and stock prices are soaring. You end up getting $700. The buyer gets the same $50 a year in interest, but the yield looks like this:
- $50 annual interest / $700 = 7.1%
The buyer’s interest rate is now slightly more than seven percent. Interest rates and yields are not mysterious. You calculate them with simple math.Verify your new rate (Aug 20th, 2018)