Mortgage and refinance rates today, Sept. 21, 2021

Peter Warden
The Mortgage Reports editor

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates edged lower yesterday. It was a welcome relief after much bigger rises at the end of last week. But, of course, current rates remain extraordinarily low.

So far this morning, mortgage rates today look likely to hold steady or inch lower. But markets have been particularly volatile over the last few days and there are no guarantees.

Find and lock a low rate (Sep 21st, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.993% 3.009% -0.03%
Conventional 15 year fixed
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.369% 2.393% -0.01%
Conventional 20 year fixed
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.841% 2.87% -0.04%
Conventional 10 year fixed
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.282% 2.335% -0.03%
30 year fixed FHA
30 year fixed FHA 2.989% 3.746% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA
15 year fixed FHA 2.406% 3.048% -0.03%
5/1 ARM FHA
5/1 ARM FHA 2.185% 2.98% +0.01%
30 year fixed VA
30 year fixed VA 2.808% 2.998% -0.02%
15 year fixed VA
15 year fixed VA 2.632% 2.98% -0.04%
5/1 ARM VA
5/1 ARM VA 2.432% 2.275% 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 21st, 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?

Tomorrow’s Federal Reserve news conference could prove pivotal for mortgage rates. And low rates face other risks.

Of course, there are other possible eventualities that could drag those rates lower. But I reckon they’re less likely to occur than those with the potential to push them higher.

So my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • 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 inched down to 1.32% from 1.33%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were higher 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 decreased to $70.68 from $71.01 a barrel. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity. 
  • Gold prices edged up to $1,775 from $1,757 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 indexinched up to 25 from 24 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 hold steady or just inch downward. 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 21st, 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

The Federal Reserve’s monetary policy body — the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC — begins a two-day meeting this morning. And at 2 p.m. (ET) tomorrow it will issue a statement and 30 minutes later host a news conference. The world awaits those with bated breath.

A Bloomberg survey of economists, published on Sept. 17, found that the consensus among its participants was:

The Federal Reserve will probably hint at its meeting that it is moving toward scaling back monthly asset purchases and make a formal announcement in November.

How does that affect mortgage rates?

Those asset purchases include the $40 billion a month that the Fed is spending on buying mortgage-backed securities (MBSs). Those are the bonds that largely determine mortgage rates. And those purchases of MBSs are keeping mortgage rates artificially low. The process of scaling asset purchases back (to zero) over some months is called “tapering.”

The last time the Fed announced that it would be tapering a similar program of asset purchases was in 2013. And mortgage rates rose significantly — and stayed higher — on that announcement.

Note, investors didn’t hang around waiting for the tapering to actually begin. They responded immediately on the announcement, even though the taper didn’t start until months later.

The Fed hopes that it’s done enough to avoid a repeat of that this time around. It’s softened up markets incrementally by signaling that tapering will be announced this year. And it’s allowed its senior officials to debate possible start dates in public so the announcement won’t be so shocking.

How likely are higher rates tomorrow?

We won’t know how effective that softening up has been until an announcement is made. And there’s a real possibility it will come tomorrow.

Personally, I agree with that Bloomberg consensus. Because I think an announcement on Nov. 3 (or even Dec. 15) is more likely than tomorrow. Those are the remaining, scheduled, post-FOMC news conference dates for this year.

But you really can’t discount the possibility of an announcement tomorrow.

When rates might fall

Rate rises are not absolutely certain. And there are a number of eventualities that could see the Fed back off and rates fall, perhaps to new all-time lows.

The most likely of those is a resurgence in COVID-19 that wreaks real economic damage. Everyone hopes that won’t arise. Because the human cost would be appalling.

But, yesterday, the total American death toll from COVID-19 grew so high that it exceeded that of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. So we’re not out of the woods yet.

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 moderately.

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. 16 report puts that weekly average at 2.86% (with 0.7 fees and points), down from the previous week’s 2.88%.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts — Updated today

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 were updated on Sept. 20 and the MBA’s on Aug. 19. But Freddie’s were last refreshed on July 15 because it now publishes these figures only quarterly. And its forecast is looking seriously stale.

Forecaster Q3/21 Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22
Fannie Mae 2.9% 2.9%  3.0% 3.1%
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 or soon-ish. 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 21st, 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.