Mortgage And Refinance Rates Today, Feb. 16| Rates steady-ish

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose modestly yesterday. It was the ninth consecutive business day on which they’ve increased. So, fearsome February continues.

This morning, markets are fairly quiet, despite better–than–expected retail sales figures. And mortgage rates today might be unchanged or barely changed. But, as always, things might turn out differently as the hours pass.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Feb 17th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 4.196% 4.219% +0.01%
Conventional 15 year fixed 3.431% 3.461% +0.02%
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.954% 3.986% +0.02%
Conventional 10 year fixed 3.477% 3.543% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 4.309% 5.095% +0.16%
15 year fixed FHA 3.644% 4.211% -0.05%
30 year fixed VA 3.905% 4.109% -0.14%
15 year fixed VA 3.38% 3.711% -0.13%
5/1 ARM VA 4.75% 3.86% 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.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

It’s been an extraordinarily bad couple of weeks for mortgage rates. Of course, they’re bound to fall again sometime.

But, unless that’s triggered by some huge event, you should probably expect any decreases to be limited and relatively brief. I’d be surprised if they recovered more than a fraction of the ground that these rates have lost recently.

So my personal rate lock recommendations 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

>Related: 7 Tips to get the best refinance rate

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 2.03% from 2.05%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were lower. (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. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices moved up to $93.56 from $91.42 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices rose to $1,865 from $1,854 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is 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 index – inched higher to 38 from 37 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, mortgage rates today might hold steady or nearly steady. However, be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Feb 17th, 2022)

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.

A lot is going on at the moment. 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?

To me, the prospects for mortgage rates look grim. Yes, they’re bound to fall sometime. But there seems to be little prospect of their doing so in a worthwhile and sustained way.

The current main hope that they’ll fall further and for longer relies on yesterday’s announcement by Russia – that it’s started to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border – being a feint. Such deception is certainly within President Vladimir Putin’s playbook.

But wagering your next mortgage rate on his duplicity seems unwise. And I certainly wouldn’t make such a bet.

The Fed

While the Ukrainian situation is being resolved (or not), mortgage rates might move up and down with news from the region. But, overall, they are likely to continue higher, though, with luck, more slowly than recently. That’s because markets fear the Federal Reserve’s reactions to high inflation, which are likely to drive all interest rates higher.

In an e–newsletter this morning, Jeff Sparshott of The Wall Street Journal summed up the situation admirably:

“[Fed Chair Jerome] Powell responded to the pandemic by doubling down on strategies developed by his predecessors to combat prolonged high unemployment and very low inflation. When the labor market healed rapidly and high inflation emerged as the bigger threat, he and his colleagues were caught by surprise. No Fed chairman since Paul Volcker in the early 1980s has had to grapple with inflation this high. The risk now is that his fight against inflation will cause a new recession, as Mr. Volcker’s did.”

No doubt Mr. Powell is well aware of all this and will do everything he can to avoid a new recession. And many economists believe that current inflation is structurally very different from what Mr. Volcker faced. But, as long as the current Fed is seen to be acting decisively to counter inflation, the pressure on mortgage rates to rise will continue.

For a more detailed look at what’s happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this report.

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 that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.

Freddie’s Feb. 10 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.69% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.55%.

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 four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie’s were published on Jan. 19 and Freddie’s and the MBA’s on Jan. 21.

Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
Fannie Mae 3.2% 3.3%  3.3% 3.4%
Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
MBA 3.3% 3.5%  3.7% 4.0%

Personally, I was surprised that Fannie Mae only slightly increased its rate forecasts in January. It believes that rates for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages will average 3.2% over the current quarter. But, on the day its figures were published, we reported those for conventional loans were already up to 3.87%.

Do Fannie’s economists expect those rates to plummet later this month or in February or March and remain lower in the following quarters? If so, they know something that I don’t. And that their peers in Freddie and the MBA’s teams don’t, either, though I’m less optimistic than any of them.

Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop 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.”

Show me today’s rates (Feb 17th, 2022)

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.

The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.

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