Mortgage and refinance rates today, Sept. 15, 2021

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates inched lower yesterday. And the last time they rose was a week earlier. All this is fantastic news, given how low these rates are at the moment.

First thing this morning, markets were signaling that mortgage rates today may hold steady. But that could change as the hours pass.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 25th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.747% 2.747% -0.06%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 1.99% 1.99% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.375% 2.375% -0.12%
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 1.846% 1.878% -0.02%
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.629% 3.283% -0.06%
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.369% 2.968% -0.02%
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% -0.01%
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.125% 2.445% 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 (Sep 25th, 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?

You won’t have gained (or lost) much if you’ve been continuing to float your rate over the last month. And nobody can complain about that, given that these rates are currently uberlow.

However, the risks of floating are relatively elevated. Because the things most likely to eventually move mortgage rates are much more likely to push them higher than lower. That’s not certain. But higher rates in the coming weeks or months look probable.

So, 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 yesterday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes inched lower to 1.29% from 1.30%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mixed shortly after opening. (Neutral 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 rose to $72.57 from $70.97 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity. 
  • Gold prices nudged higher to $1,799 from $1,793 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 indextumbled to 32 from 40 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 remain unchanged. 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 (Sep 25th, 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

Yesterday’s consumer price index showed that, while these prices had continued to rise in August, they’d done so more slowly than in earlier months. And this morning’s Financial Times reported that event thus, “Slight moderation in pace of price increases allays fears that Fed is heading for early rate rise.”

And, suddenly, we’re back to “tapering.” Regular readers already know all about this and can skip the next two paragraphs. But, if you’re not sure what that word means, carry on reading to find out.

Each month, the Federal Reserve spends $45 billion (closer to $100 billion, if you count recycled money) buying a type of bond called a mortgage-backed security (MBS). And these bonds are by far the biggest influence on mortgage rates. So the Fed is currently keeping mortgage rates artificially low.

The Fed has already signaled that it plans to slow these purchases this year and stop them next (aka “taper” its purchases). But nobody knows when it will start this. What we do know is that the last time it tapered a similar program, back in 2013, mortgage rates shot up. History may or may not repeat itself this time.

When might mortgage rates rise?

The next possible time it could announce tapering is at a news conference scheduled for Sept. 22, which is one week today. Following disappointing employment figures for August and yesterday’s cooler inflation figures, such an early announcement is looking less likely than it was a couple of weeks ago.

But it’s still possible. And, if there’s no announcement then, other dates on the Fed calendar for news conferences are Nov. 3 and Dec. 15.

So we can’t be sure when tapering will be announced. But it’s likely to occur between seven and 91 days from today. Similarly, we can’t be certain what will happen to mortgage rates when the announcement comes. But it may well spell the end of the ultralow rates we’ve grown used to.

For more background, read Saturday’s weekend edition of this column.

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, in April and after, those rises were mostly replaced by falls, though typically small ones. And, more recently, rates have hardly budged. Freddie’s Sept. 9 report puts that weekly average at 2.88% (with 0.7 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 2.87%.

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 (Sep 25th, 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.