Mortgage and refinance rates today, July 15, 2021

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates edged lower yesterday. And they’re now appreciably lower than they have been on most days over the last month.

Mortgage rates today look likely to fall moderately again. But, as we saw yesterday, markets can change during each day.

Find and lock a low rate (Jul 31st, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.811% 2.811% -0.02%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.125% 2.125% -0.07%
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.585% 2.585% -0.04%
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 1.944% 1.982% -0.02%
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.672% 3.326% -0.02%
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.491% 3.092% -0.07%
5/1 ARM FHA
5/1 ARM FHA 2.5% 3.213% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% -0.1%
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5/1 ARM VA
5/1 ARM VA 2.5% 2.392% 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 (Jul 31st, 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?

Very little has changed recently. And mortgage rates remain within a remarkably low and narrow range by all but the most exceptional standards.

However, most experts still believe that they’ll drift gently higher when they break free of that range. And there’s a possibility of a sharp rise at some unknown point, which could come at virtually anytime within the second half of this year.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations must 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

However, 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 Treasury notes fell to 1.32% from 1.37%. (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 lower soon after 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 may happen when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices tumbled to $72.33 from $75.12 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity. 
  • Gold prices inched up to $1,827 from $1,826 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 indexfell to 30 from 41 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 daily 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 fall. But be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find and lock a low rate (Jul 31st, 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

Yesterday’s fall in mortgage rates was much gentler than looked likely first thing that morning. Soon after 10 a.m. (ET), when we published, we knew from an advance copy of his speech what Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell would say later in prepared remarks for his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee.

Those remarks looked like good news for those who want low mortgage rates. And a decent fall looked on the cards. But then legislators got to bombard Mr. Powell with questions. And, although his responses held up remarkably well, the doubt he faced took the edge of the day’s rate fall.

In its report of the proceedings, PBS picked up on a key point:

Powell added that the Fed might adjust its policies if inflation, or the public’s expectations for inflation, “were moving materially and persistently beyond levels consistent with our goal.” Americans’ expectations for inflation are important because they can become self-fulfilling, as consumers may demand higher wages to offset rising prices.

— PBS, “Fed Chair Powell says inflation, though elevated, will likely moderate,” July 14, 2021

Why’s that key? Because if enough consumers and businesses come to believe that inflation is here to stay, it will be. And that would almost certainly push mortgage rates higher.

How mortgage rates might fall further

But nothing’s inevitable in economics. And investors are increasingly worried that a resurgence in COVID-19 cases at home and around the world could yet kill off the current economic recovery.

Last week, I quoted Treasury Secretary (and former Fed chair) Janet Yellen:

We are very concerned about the Delta variant and other variants that could emerge and threaten recovery. We are a connected global economy. What happens in any part of the world affects all other countries.

Overnight, China published its latest growth figures for the second quarter. At 1.3%, they were better than for the first quarter. But, by Chinese standards, they were pretty anemic. And, of course, several other major economies are struggling with new waves of the pandemic.

We’ll soon get a clearer picture of how any global malaise is affecting the US economy with industrial production figures today and retail sales figures tomorrow. If either (but especially the latter) is seriously disappointing, we may see more falls in mortgage rates as investors recalibrate their expectations.

However, that’s not certain. Indeed, if enough investors think these figures will delay the Fed’s tapering of asset purchases and the hiking of its interest rates, that could — perversely — see mortgage rates rise.

What should your takeaway be from all this? That uncertainty is currently one of the few commodities of which we have a glut.

Mortgage rates and inflation: Why are rates going up?

For more background, read Saturday’s weekend edition of this column, which has more space for in-depth analysis.

Recently — Updated today

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 then the trend reversed and rates rose.

However, those rises were mostly replaced by falls in April and since, though only small ones. Freddie’s July 15 report puts that weekly average at 2.88% (with 0.7 fees and points), down from the previous week’s 2.90%.

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 remaining quarters of 2021 (Q3/21 and Q4/21) and the first two quarters of 2022 (Q1/22 and Q2/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s were updated on June 16 and the MBA’s on June 18. Freddie’s forecast is dated April 14. But it now updates only quarterly. So its numbers are looking stale.

Forecaster Q3/21 Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22
Fannie Mae 3.0% 3.2%  3.2% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 3.2% 3.5%  3.7% 3.9%

However, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts might be even more speculative than usual.

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.

Verify your new rate (Jul 31st, 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.