Mortgage rates today, Mar. 2, and rate forecast for next week

March 2, 2024 - 6 min read

Today’s mortgage rates

Average mortgage rates just inched lower yesterday. And they were effectively unchanged over the last seven days.

Next week, the direction those rates take will probably hinge almost entirely on Friday’s jobs report and appearances before Congress of the Federal Reserve’s chair. (More on those below.) Of course, nobody knows what they will say. So, once again, I’m forced to say mortgage rates next week could go either way.

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Current mortgage and refinance rates

ProgramMortgage RateAPR*Change
30-year fixed VA
30-year fixed VA 6.787% 6.833% -0.29
30-year fixed FHA
30-year fixed FHA 6.74% 6.787% -0.24
Conventional 15-year fixed
Conventional 15-year fixed 6.406% 6.485% -0.03
Conventional 10-year fixed
Conventional 10-year fixed 6.295% 6.375% -0.01
Conventional 30-year fixed
Conventional 30-year fixed 6.935% 6.985% -0.03
Conventional 20-year fixed
Conventional 20-year fixed 6.651% 6.708% -0.08
5/1 ARM Conventional
5/1 ARM Conventional 6.592% 7.807% +0.13
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 See our rate assumptions here.
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Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

There’s no such thing as certainty in future mortgage rates. However, the chances of their gently gliding lower in 2024 are good. Unfortunately, it’s looking unlikely that the happy trend will arrive before late spring, and possibly well into the summer.

So, my personal rate lock recommendations are now:

  • 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, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So let your gut and your own tolerance for risk help guide you.

What’s moving current mortgage rates

Next week’s jobs report

Two monthly economic reports vie for the top spot as the most consequential for mortgage rates. One, the jobs report, is due next Friday. And the other, the consumer price index (CPI), is scheduled for the following Tuesday.

We’ll deal with the CPI next week. But let’s look at what the jobs report (formally called the employment situation report) for February might do.

With almost all economic data, mortgage rates tend to fall when the figures in a report are lower than markets are expecting. One exception crops up in the jobs report. It’s better for mortgage rates when the unemployment rate is higher than expected.

Before each report, analysts come up with a consensus forecast. And many investors trade ahead of publication based on the forecast, pricing it into mortgage rates and assets. So, when the forecast is wrong, investors are left scrambling to buy or sell assets as they rebalance their portfolios to reflect reality. The asset that largely determines mortgage rates is a type of bond called a mortgage-backed security (MBS).

So, let’s see what markets are expecting, according to MarketWatch, from the jobs report:

  • Nonfarm payrolls (new jobs added during the month) — 210,000 in February, down from 353,000 in January
  • Unemployment rate — 3.7% in February, unchanged from January
  • Hourly wages — 0.2% in February, down from 0.6% in January

To be clear, mortgage rates tend to fall when economic data are worse than expected. So, we’d like nonfarm payrolls to be below 210,000, hourly wages to have risen more slowly than 0.2%, and the unemployment rate to be higher than 3.7%.

Chances are, the jobs report will on Friday swamp the effects of all the other economic reports next week. But a few of the lesser ones might cause some volatility earlier in the week.

Other important reports next week

The ones most likely to do so are:

  • January factory orders on Tuesday — Expected to fall to -3.1% from December’s +0.2%
  • February purchasing managers’ index (PMI) from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) — Expected to fall slightly
  • February ADP employment report for the private sector on Wednesday — Expected to rise to 150,000 from 107,000 in January. Sometimes seen as a bellwether for the jobs report
  • January job openings and labor turnover survey (JOLTS) on Wednesday — Openings are expected to dip slightly to 8.9 million from 9 million in December. A helpful peek under the labor market’s hood
  • Second reading of productivity during the last quarter of 2023 (Q4/23) on Thursday — Expected to be a shade lower than the first reading at 3.1% compared to 3.2%

We’d need to see big variations from the analysts’ consensus forecasts for these to move mortgage rates far or for long. But any of these might push those rates up or down.

The Fed

Although these and other reports routinely move mortgage rates even when inflation and the Federal Reserve are not front of mind, things are different now. Investors tend to view the data through the prism of how they might affect the Fed’s decisions on the timing and scope of future cuts to general interest rates.

One way they can gauge that is by listening to what top Fed officials say in public. And those have nine speaking engagements next week.

Most importantly, Fed Chair Jerome Powell is due to provide evidence to Congress next Wednesday and Thursday. His voice is highly influential and his testimony could easily move mortgage rates.

The Fed will next decide on rate policy on Mar. 20. Very few expect it to cut general interest rates that day. But Wall Street hopes it will strongly hint at cuts at the May or June meetings of its rate-setting committee.

Economic reports next week

See above for details about the more important economic reports next week.

In the following list of next week’s reports, only those in bold typically have the potential to affect mortgage rates appreciably. The others probably won’t have much impact unless they contain shockingly good or bad data.

  • Monday — Nothing
  • Tuesday — February ISM PMI. Also factory orders for January
  • Wednesday — Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress. Also February’s ADP employment report and January’s JOLTS
  • Thursday — Fed Chair Jerome Powell testifies to Congress (again). Plus productivity in Q4/23. And initial jobless claims for the week ending Mar. 2
  • Friday — February jobs report

The jobs report is by far the most important publication next week. But watch out, too, for the Fed chair’s appearances before Congress.

Time to make a move? Let us find the right mortgage for you

Mortgage rates forecast for next week

Once again, mortgage rates are unpredictable next week. Whether they move higher or lower will largely depend on the jobs report (which regularly confounds analysts’ forecasts) and on what Fed Chair Jerome Powell tells Congress.

How your mortgage interest rate is determined

A bond market generally determines mortgage and refinance rates. It’s the one where trading in mortgage-backed securities takes place.

And that’s highly dependent on the economy. So mortgage rates tend to be high when things are going well and low when the economy’s in trouble. But inflation rates can undermine those tendencies.

Your part

But you play a big part in determining your own mortgage rate in five ways. And you can affect it significantly by:

  1. Shopping around for your best mortgage rate — They vary widely from lender to lender
  2. Boosting your credit score — Even a small bump can make a big difference to your rate and payments
  3. Saving the biggest down payment you can — Lenders like you to have real skin in this game
  4. Keeping your other borrowing modest — The lower your other monthly commitments, the bigger the mortgage you can afford
  5. Choosing your mortgage carefully — Are you better off with a conventional, conforming, FHA, VA, USDA, jumbo or another loan?

Time spent getting these ducks in a row can see you winning lower rates.

Remember, they’re not just a mortgage rate

Be sure to count all your forthcoming homeownership costs when you’re working out how big a mortgage you can afford. So, focus on something called you “PITI.” That stands for:

  • Principal — Pays down the amount you borrowed
  • Interest — The price of borrowing
  • Taxes — Specifically property taxes
  • Insurance — Specifically homeowners insurance

Our mortgage calculator can help with these.

Depending on your type of mortgage and the size of your down payment, you may have to pay mortgage insurance, too. And that can easily run into three figures every month.

But there are other potential costs. So, you’ll have to pay homeowners association dues if you choose to live somewhere with an HOA. And, wherever you live, you should expect repairs and maintenance costs. There’s no landlord to call when things go wrong!

Finally, you’ll find it hard to forget closing costs. You can see those reflected in the annual percentage rate (APR) that lenders will quote you. Because that effectively spreads them out over your loan’s term, making that rate higher than your straight mortgage rate.

But you may be able to get help with those closing costs and your down payment, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Read:

Down payment assistance programs in every state for 2023

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 result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.

Peter Warden
Authored By: Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports Editor
Peter Warden has been writing for a decade about mortgages, personal finance, credit cards, and insurance. His work has appeared across a wide range of media. He lives in a small town with his partner of 25 years.