Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 24, 2021

Peter Warden
Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
February 24, 2021 - 7 min read

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose yet again yesterday. But it was the smallest increase for a couple of weeks. Is that any consolation?

Unfortunately, mortgage rates look set to rise again today, perhaps appreciably.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.966% 2.969% +0.02%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.493% 2.502% -0.02%
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.921% 2.928% +0.03%
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.577% 2.588% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.74% 3.416% +0.05%
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.515% 3.097% +0.03%
5 year ARM FHA
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.201% -0.01%
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 2.375% 2.547% +0.13%
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% +0.12%
5 year ARM VA
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.379% -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.

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?

Clearly, the mood on Wall Street remains upbeat over the economy’s future prospects. And that (along with some fears over future inflation) is what has delivered seven rises – including some appreciable ones – and one small fall in mortgage rates over the last eight working days.

Of course, markets are notorious for swift switches in sentiment. And there are some threats to this sunny optimism in the medium term. But there are no obvious and immediate events on my radar that might trigger such a switch and bring significantly lower mortgage rates anytime soon.

So my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • LOCK 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 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 Treasurys climbed to 1.43% from 1.35%. (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 mostly lower on opening. (Good 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 rose to $62.25 from $60.82 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.)
  • Gold prices dropped to $1,784 from $1,797 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 – Nudged up to 57 from 53 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. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to move higher.

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. And read “$2For 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 “$2op–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 are 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 and soon

I’m expecting mortgage rates to rise today. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses. Indeed, such intraday swings have become an irritating feature of markets recently.

As I said earlier, there are some threats to the cheerfulness that’s seized investors and pushed up mortgage rates. But they may not happen soon – or at all. They include the:

  • Slowing down of the COVID–19 vaccination program in ways that delay further economic recovery
  • Failure of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package
  • Possible future emergence of a new variation (or mutation) of SARS–CoV–2 that’s resistant to existing vaccines
  • Crashing of the stock market, which some financial commentators believe may be on the cards

Any of those (and, no doubt, other unpredictable and mostly unwelcome events) would probably send mortgage rates significantly lower. But you have to ask yourself how likely it is one will arise before you have to close on your mortgage.

For more background on my wider thinking, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

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. But rates then rose. And Freddie’s Feb. 18 report puts that weekly average at 2.81%, up from the previous week’s 2.73%, and the highest it’s been since mid–November. But even that weekly average fails to take into account all the rises we saw that week, nor ones this week.

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 each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie’s and the MBA’s were updated on Feb. 18 and 19 respectively. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly and its figures are from mid–January:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.9% 2.9%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.8% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

However, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there’s certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

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.

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.

Popular Articles

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.