Posted 12/14/2017

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Mortgage rates today, December 14, plus lock recommendations

mortgage rates today, today's mortgage rates

Gina Pogol

The Mortgage Reports Contributor

What's driving current mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates today are not feeling the effects of a Fed rate increase, because there wasn't one. That was unexpected. Instead, Fed Chair Janet Yellen spent more time addressing the potential problems if bitcoin becomes a larger part of the money supply. That's because the Fed adjusts the money supply to control inflation, and has no way to regulate the supply of cryptocurrency.

Th effect on interest rates in the absence of any control is unpredictable.

But today, we got the Weekly Unemployment Claims, which at 225,000 were 10,000 fewer than expected — bad for rates.

And the Commerce Department released Retail Sales for November. Those blew estimates out of the water with a 0.8 percent increase. Experts had anticipated just 0.3 percent, but the online sector really expanded this year. That's nice for retailers but less-nice for interest rates.

However, mortgages appear to be weathering the storm — the only changes were reversals of recent increases on two government-backed programs.

Verify your new rate (Jan 18th, 2018)

Mortgage rates today

Program Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 yr Fixed 3.750 3.750 Unchanged
Conventional 15 yr Fixed 3.250 3.250 Unchanged
Conventional 5 yr ARM 3.500 3.874 Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 3.375 4.360 -0.13%
15 year fixed FHA 3.250 4.198 Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 3.375 4.394 Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 3.500 3.672 -0.13%
15 year fixed VA 3.375 3.685 Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 3.625 3.671 Unchanged

Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Financial data that affect today's mortgage rates

This morning's financial data mostly point to lower or flat interest rates.

  • Major stock indexes opened modestly higher than yesterday's close (slightly bad for mortgage rates)
  • Gold prices rose $8 an ounce to $1,255. (That is 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).
  • Oil remained at $57 a barrel (neutral for mortgage interest rates. Higher energy prices play a large role in creating inflation.)
  • The yield on ten-year Treasuries fell 2 basis points (2/100ths of one percent) to  2.36 percent (good for rates, because mortgage rates tend to follow Treasuries)
  • CNNMoney’s Fear & Greed Index rose 4 points to 70, still in "greedy" territory, and that is not good for rates.  "Fearful" investors push rates down as they leave the stock market and move into bonds, while "greedy" investors do the opposite. That causes rates to rise.

Mortgage rates today remain very favorable for anyone considering homeownership. Residential financing is still affordable.

This week

  • Friday closes out the week with the Industrial Production report for November. Increasing production usually stems from more demand for products, which tends to cause the cost of money to rise.

Rate lock recommendation

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.

You can probably safely float a mortgage if you're not closing in the next couple of weeks. With rates so stable, it may be worth waiting for a 15-day lock if you're 17 or so days from closing now.

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

Video: More about mortgage rates

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 (Jan 18th, 2018)

Gina Pogol

The Mortgage Reports Contributor

Gina Pogol writes about personal finance, credit, mortgages and real estate. She loves helping consumers understand complex and intimidating topics. She can be reached on Twitter at @GinaPogol.

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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Mortgage loan limits for every U.S. county, as published by Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)