Mortgage Rates Quietly Holding Near Lows


It wouldn’t have taken much for mortgage rates to outdo themselves in terms of volatility when compared to the past few business days.  Last Thursday and Friday were particularly uneventful.  Yet somehow, today managed to be even more so.  

Mortgage rates may be higher or lower than the previous day right at the outset or they may move higher or lower in the middle of the day if the underlying bond market moves enough in either direction.  Today, the opening levels were just where they needed to be to ensure no change.  While bond markets did move a bit, we never saw anything quite strong or weak enough to result in lenders changing rate sheets.

Most lenders continue to quote conventional 30yr fixed rates in the 3.75% to 3.875% range.  Any changes from yesterday would be seen in the form of microscopic adjustments to the upfront cost/credit (as opposed to the “note rate” itself).  Apart from October 2nd, today’s rates sheets are right in line with the recent run of 5-month lows.

Loan Originator Perspective

“Bonds drifted in a narrow range today, and loan pricing was largely the same as Friday’s.  This week’s economic calendar doesn’t look to provide any meaningful motivation, and I’m back to “the range is the range until it isn’t anymore” mode.  That means lock near the lows, float near the highs, and we’re nearer the low than high now.  Happy with current pricing?  Lock ’em up, and concentrate your efforts on getting loans done despite TRID’s new requirements!” –Ted Rood, Senior Loan Originator

“Mortgage bonds improved a bit today.  It looks to me we are moving sideways with no clear signal as to what the next move will be.  I do feel in the near term pricing could get worse before it gets better.  I would be locking if you are closing in under 30 days.” –Manny Gomes, Branch Manager Norcom Mortgage

Today’s Best-Execution Rates

  • 30YR FIXED – 3.75-3.875%
  • FHA/VA – 3.5%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED – 3.125%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS –  2.75 – 3.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • 2015 began with a strong move to the lowest rates seen since May 2013.  The catalyst was Europe and the introduction of European quantitative easing.  Investors bet heavily the move lower in European rates and domestic rates benefited as well.  But with those bets finally drying up in April and with the Fed seemingly intent on hiking rates in the US, May and June saw a sharp move back toward higher rates.  The implicit fear is that global interest rates set a long term low in April, and have now begun a major move higher.

  • July said “not so fast” to that potential “big bounce.”  Some of the data began to suggest the Fed is still a bit too early in talking about raising rates in 2015–particularly, a lack of wage growth or any promising signs of inflation.  But Fed proponents maintain that low inflation is a byproduct of temporary trends in the value of the dollar and the price of oil, and that once these factors  level-off, inflation will ultimately return.  That side of the argument suggests that inflation could increase too quickly if the Fed hasn’t already begun normalizing interest rates.
    • With all of the above in mind, locking made far more sense for the entirety of May and June, and we were not shy about saying so.  The second half of July saw that conversation shift toward one where multiple outcomes could once again be entertained.  In other words, we went from “duck and cover!” to “let’s see where this is going…”   Even the Fed took a similar stance when it held off raising rates when it had an excellent opportunity to do so in September’s meeting.
    • In the bigger picture, financial markets are now at a crossroads
      This is true for both stocks and bonds, with each trying to determine if
      it will move back into the the ranges seen in June and July or if the
      recent move lower in yields and stock prices was merely the first wave
      of a longer campaign.  If we take the Fed at their word, and if we
      forego any concerns about increasingly weak global economic growth,
      there is certainly more risk that rates move quickly higher vs
      quickly lower.  Hoping for lower rates is a long-term game meant only
      for economic pessimists who know the fact that the world is doomed will
      come to light fairly shortly.  The latter must also be willing to pay
      higher rates if they end up being wrong (or otherwise unwilling to wait
      long enough to be right).  All that having been said, those pessimists have increasingly been proven right as 2015 has progressed.

    • As always, please keep in mind that the rates discussed generally refer to what we’ve termedbest-execution(that is, the most frequently quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers, based not only on the outright price, but also ‘bang-for-the-buck.’  Generally speaking, our best-execution rate tends to connote no origination or discount points–though this can vary–and tends to predict Freddie Mac’s weekly survey with high accuracy.  It’s safe to assume that our best-ex rate is the more timely and accurate of the two due to Freddie’s once-a-week polling method).

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