Mortgage and refinance rates today, October 29, 2020

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates edged lower yesterday. And conventional loans today start at 3.125% (3.125% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Each of the successive falls we’ve seen this week has been modest. But they’re beginning to add up.

Find and lock a low rate (Dec 3rd, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.125% 3.125% -0.06%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 3% 3% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.743% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.226% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.239% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 3.063% 3.242% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.419% 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 (Dec 3rd, 2020)


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?

For the reasons in “Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?” (below), I stand by my opinion that mortgage rates are likely to carry on inching lower, though only slowly and unsteadily. And that those falls will be punctuated by occasional, brief and modest rises — including today.

So my personal recommendations remain:

  • 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

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.

Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates 

Here’s the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time yesterday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys rose to 0.78% from 0.75%. (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 mixed on opening. (Neutral 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 moved down to $35.01 from $37.45 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices fell to $1,865 from $1,881 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.

*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.

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. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today, they’re looking worse for mortgage rates.

Find and lock a low rate (Dec 3rd, 2020)

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. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. 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 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 from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are currently appreciably 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

Yesterday, we quoted Robert J. Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale, who wrote in The New York Times on Oct. 23 about growing “fears of a major market crash.”

Also yesterday, Michael Schumacher of Wells Fargo Securities voiced his. “When you think about the U.S. elections, Covid worsening [and] all sorts of other news items coming out in the next couple of weeks, it could be a fairly scary time” for Wall Street, he told CNBC.

GDP report this morning

But (yet again) yesterday, we wondered whether this morning’s gross domestic product (GDP) figures might be seized on by investors desperate for good news.

Those figures were forecast to be excellent (+33% annualized, according to MarketWatch) — though far from sufficiently so to recover ground lost in the first half of the year. And, sure enough, they came in at a recordbreaking +33.1%, which is +7.4% over the quarter.

But those figures relate to a very different time (July-September), when COVID-19 was receding and the economy was recovering. And the opposite’s true now. Might investors still follow their recent pattern of shrugging off bad news and hyping good?

Well, now we know. GDP news was enough to slow the recent slide in stock markets (the Dow was down more than 900 points yesterday). But it was not enough to stop the Dow being 70 points lower 18 minutes after it opened.

All of this gloom is great news for those who want lower mortgage rates. But it’s terrible for everyone else.

Recently

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we’ve gotten close to others since. Indeed, Freddie Mac said that a new low was set during each of the weeks ending Oct. 15 and 22. And it may well report a third successive record week later this morning.

But not every mortgage expert agrees with Freddie’s figures. In particular, Freddie’s relate to purchase mortgages alone and ignore refinances. And if you average out across both, rates are higher than the all-time low.

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 the last quarter of 2020 (Q4/20) and the first three of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21 and Q3/21).

Note that Fannie’s (out on Oct. 19) and the MBA’s (Oct. 21) are updated monthly. However, Freddie’s are now published quarterly. Its latest was released on Oct. 14.

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

ForecasterQ4/20Q1/21Q2/21Q3/21
Fannie Mae2.9%2.8%2.8%2.8%
Freddie Mac3.0%3.0%3.0%3.0%
MBA3.0%3.1%3.1%3.2%

So predictions vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

The pandemic — together with a surge in home sales and mortgage and refinance applications — has created some turmoil in the home loans industry.

And that’s making it harder for some borrowers to find the sorts of mortgages they need. So be prepared to shop around even more widely than usual.

But, of course, comparison shopping for a loan is always important. 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 (Dec 3rd, 2020)

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.