Mortgage and refinance rates today, August 30, 2021

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates nudged down last Friday. But, overall, there was no change over the week. And recent daily movements have generally canceled each other out. But that’s good, given that these rates remain extraordinarily low.

Mortgage rates today may fall a little, judging by early movements in markets. But things may change as the day progresses.

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

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.808% 2.808% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 1.995% 1.996% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.391% 2.391% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 1.875% 1.922% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.688% 3.343% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.43% 3.031% Unchanged
5/1 ARM FHA
5/1 ARM FHA 2.5% 3.207% +0.01%
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.421% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5/1 ARM VA
5/1 ARM VA 2.5% 2.386% +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.
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?

For as long as mortgage rates remain in the doldrums, you’ve little to fear. And it barely matters whether you lock or float your rate. Because you’re likely to gain or lose little either way. But that can’t last forever.

So you should be concerned about what’s coming next. And most experts are expecting rises, though they differ over whether those will be small or large. Now, you could legitimately argue that experts are frequently proved wrong. And that might lead you to ignore their advice. That’s just fine, as long as you recognize the risks.

But, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT 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 last Friday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes edged lower to 1.30% from 1.34%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mostly higher shortly after 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 may happen when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices fell to $68.28 from $68.76 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity. 
  • Gold prices rose to $1,816 from $1,790 an ounce. (Good 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 indexincreased to 57 from 50 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. 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 a little. 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 (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. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed

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

With Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech last Friday out the way, we can at last stop going on about tapering. But I’m afraid that topic will be back in a few weeks.

In the meantime, markets continue to be difficult to read. Commentators claim investors are worried about the economic consequences of a surge in the COVID-19 Delta variant, thus keeping bond yields and mortgage rates low. And yet those same investors are partying when it comes to stocks. Over the weekend, Investopedia reported in an e-newsletter on last Friday’s trading:

The S&P 500 closed above 4,500 points for the first time, while the Nasdaq jumped more than 1%, also finishing at an all-time high. The Dow was up more than 200 points, just 170 points from its best close ever. All three major averages finished the week in positive territory.

So how worried can investors really be about the Delta variant?

Last week, I reported on a New York Times story about how banks face overflowing coffers and too low a demand for borrowing. And that’s forcing them to buy US Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities (MBSs, a type of bond that directly influences mortgage rates), even though they’d rather not. To me, that sounds a more convincing explanation — alongside the Fed’s massive purchases of both — for today’s uberlow mortgage rates.

And, if I’m right, we may have to wait for the Fed to start to reduce its purchases of MBSs before mortgage rates move far, either higher or lower. But that could happen as soon as Sept. 22, which is when the Fed will next host a news conference following a meeting of its monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee.

Nothing’s certain

Of course, things might work out differently. My analysis could be wrong. (No, really.) Or some economically important event might emerge from left field that changes everything.

This Friday’s monthly employment situation report probably won’t change everything. But it is the foreseeable event on this week’s calendar that is most likely to change some things. Whether it does or not will depend on the data it contains. So just be aware we’re steaming toward it.

For more background, read Saturday’s weekend edition of this column. And my colleague Tim Lucas’s longer-term forecast, Mortgage interest rates forecast and trends: Will rates go down in September 2021?

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 then the trend reversed and rates rose.

However, those rises have been mostly replaced by falls since April, though typically small ones. Freddie’s Aug. 26 report puts that weekly average at 2.87% (with 0.6 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 2.86%.

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 rate 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 and the MBA’s were updated on Aug. 19. But Freddie’s were last refreshed on July 15 because it now publishes these figures only quarterly. And its forecast is already looking stale.

Forecaster Q3/21 Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.9%  3.0% 3.0%
Freddie Mac 3.3% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 2.9% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

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

All these forecasts expect higher mortgage rates soon. But the differences between the forecasters are stark. And it may be that Fannie isn’t building in the Federal Reserve’s tapering of its support for mortgage rates while Freddie and the MBA are.

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 (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.