Mortgage and refinance rates today, November 13, 2020

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates fell moderately yesterday. And conventional loans started out this morning at 3.063% (3.063% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

Yesterday’s fall was only a fraction of the combined rises earlier in the week. But more may follow. And, first thing this morning, things were looking OK for mortgage rates.

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 3.063% 3.063% +0.31%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.813% 2.813% -0.25%
Conventional 5 year ARM
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.743% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 3% 3.982% 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% 3.179% 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?

We might see a modest fall in mortgage rates today. And more could be in prospect.

So I wouldn’t lock today unless I were close to closing. But the possibility of good economic news that pushes them higher never goes away. See “Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?” (below) for more.

Still, my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • 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 nudged lower to 0.90% from 0.92%. (Good 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 modestly 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 fell to $40.57 from $41.80 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 edged up to $1,892 from $1,875 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
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Fell back to 59 from 62 out of 100. (Good 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. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, they’re looking OK for mortgage rates today.

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 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 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

There are grounds to hope that yesterday’s fall in mortgage rates might be repeated today — and perhaps next week. At least, today is looking OK for mortgage rates.

Markets reacted euphorically on Tuesday to Pfizer’s vaccine announcement. But this morning’s Financial Times reported: “Reality check on rollout of treatment stems sell-off in Treasuries.”

In other words, the market in US Treasury bonds is (and others are, too) recognizing that — even if the vaccine is approved and distributed with all speed — it’s unlikely to have appreciable public-health or economic benefits for many months — perhaps more than a year.

And, in the meantime, the pandemic is regaining its hold on the country with frightening speed. Yesterday saw 163,405 new cases (another grim record high and up 71% in two weeks) and 1,171 deaths, according to The New York Times.

And, also yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned an audience of fellow central bankers of the economic threat the pandemic poses:

It’s women who are not by choice out of the labor market. It’s kids who are not getting the education they should be getting. It’s small businesses with generations of intellectual capital that is being destroyed, and it’s just workers who have been out of work for a long period of time and losing their connection to the labor force and losing the life that they had.

All of this is disastrous news for our economy. But it’s good news for those who want to see lower mortgage rates.

Recently

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set during each of the weeks ending Oct. 15 and 22 and Nov. 5, according to Freddie Mac. In yesterday’s report, it said rates had “jumped” that week.

However, note that Freddie’s figures relate to purchase mortgages alone and ignore refinances. And if you average out across both, rates have been consistently higher than the all-time low since a record set in August. The gap between the two has been widened by a controversial regulatory change.

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).

But note that Fannie’s (out on Oct. 19) and the MBA’s (Oct. 21) are updated monthly. However, Freddie’s are now published quarterly. And 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

Some lenders have been made nervous 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 (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.