Mortgage and refinance rates today, March 24, 2021

Peter Warden
Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
March 24, 2021 - 6 min read

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates moved lower again yesterday – and by a worthwhile amount. But, unfortunately, it was a drop in the ocean compared to 2021’s rises. Still, they remain incredibly low by historical standards.

First thing, markets looked set to deliver unchanged or slightly lower mortgage rates today. But Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will appear before a US Senate Committee any minute now. And their remarks could quickly overtake that prediction.

Find and lock a low rate (Dec 5th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

ProgramMortgage RateAPR*Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.291% 3.31% -0.03
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.528% 2.557% -0.17
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.126% 3.158% -0.04
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.618% 2.68% -0.05
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 3.307% 4.071% -0.02
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.585% 3.229% -0.06
5/1 ARM FHA 2.177% 3.085% -0.01
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 3.202% 3.397% -0.05
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 3.001% 3.345% +0.14
5/1 ARM VA
5/1 ARM VA 2.559% 2.441% -0.06
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 5th, 2021)

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?

My basic message hasn’t changed for a while: Lock soon. But it might be sensible to hold off during this period when rates are more borrower–friendly.

However, I’m expecting this hiatus in rises to be brief. So delay only if you’re ready to act quickly. And that includes keeping a close eye on these daily bulletins as well as other sources.

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 I don’t claim perfect foresight. And your personal analysis could turn out to be as good as mine – or better. So you might choose to be guided by your instincts 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 inched down to 1.64% from 1.65% (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 mostly 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 rose to $59.72 from $59.21 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.)
  • Gold prices inched lower to $1,730 from $1,732 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 to 47 from 53 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. We still make calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won’t achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or inch lower. But that's far from assured. Just be aware that intraday swings (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find and lock a low rate (Dec 5th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. 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
  2. Only “top–tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  3. 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
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. 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

Regular readers must be getting bored with my recycling the same points. But they still hold good. And new readers need to know them.

2021 has delivered significantly higher mortgage rates for two main reasons:

  1. A rising belief that the looming economic recovery will be substantial. Last week, the Fed forecast growth this year of 6.5%, which is the highest since Ronald Reagan was in the White House
  2. An increasing fear that the recovery (plus future infrastructure spending) will generate high levels of inflation

Both create powerful upward pressure on mortgage rates. And they’re still potent, which is why I remain convinced that – in spite of the current lull – we’re still going to see more rises ahead.

Yesterday, I listed four risk factors that might undermine the recovery, make inflation fears fade away and send mortgage rates tumbling. But none of those looks very likely. And you shouldn’t bank on any of them to ride to your rescue.

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


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 Mar. 18 report puts that weekly average at 3.09% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.05%.

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 were updated on March 17 and the MBA’s on March 22. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly. Its figures are from mid–January and are looking stale:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.9% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.9% 3.2% 3.4% 3.6%

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.

Show me today's rates (Dec 5th, 2021)

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.

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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.