Mortgage rates barely budged today, but did manage to gain just a bit of ground.  That means another 1-year low, technically, although many lenders are quoting the exact some conventional 30yr fixed rates as yesterday.  The range is currently between 3.5% and 3.625% with most lenders still at the higher boundary.  

Investors were anxious to hear how Fed Chair Yellen would convey the Fed's current gameplan in light of recent market movements.  Specifically, markets are forecasting no rate hikes in 2016 while Fed speakers have generally indicated there would be more like 4 hikes.  Yellen did a good job of not getting too specific on that topic, only saying that the Fed wouldn't rush to change its stance based on one crazy month of market volatility, but would, of course, consider a balance of data and events in adjusting its policy.  

It wouldn't have made too much sense for Yellen to lean too far in either direction on that topic.  If she said "yeah, we're freaked out and definitely not going to hike 4 times now," markets would have freaked out with her due to the lack of confidence that would convey.  If she'd taken the opposite path and promised 4 rate hikes no matter what, markets would have freaked out because investors wouldn't think the global economy could handle such a thing.  

In essence, she abstained, and markets reacted accordingly, with stocks and bonds continuing to show their acceptance of the early 2016 movement.

Loan Originator Perspective

"Bonds and equities both rallied mildly today, after Chairwoman Yellen testified to Congress. Some lenders posted improved pricing mid day, but for most, the gains weren't sufficient to recall rates. The long term trend to lower rates is intact, the question is when it pauses. I locked a couple of loans within 30 days of closing, but floating remains a valid option for those with time, and risk tolerance on their side." -Ted Rood, Senior Originator

"Despite a little pull back this morning, rates are managing to hold onto the recent gains.  With the quick move over the last few days, lenders have been patient in passing along the gains.   The longer we hold here, the more lenders can pass along.  Due to the small pull back this morning, I would float over night and evaluate pricing in the morning." -Victor Burek, Churchill Mortgage

Today's Best-Execution Rates

  • 30YR FIXED - 3.625 
  • FHA/VA - 3.5%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED - 3.125
  • 5 YEAR ARMS -  2.75 - 3.25% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • The Fed finally hiked on December 16th, causing fears of rising rates in 2016.
  • But  global financial markets came into the new year in distress.  Now markets aren't even convinced that we'll see another Fed rate hike in 2016.  Major stock indices plummeted around the world, and investors sought shelter in the bond market.  When investor demand for bonds increases, rates fall.

  • So we're left with much lower mortgage rates despite the Fed having just begun its hiking cycle.  This paradoxical trend can continue as long as global market turmoil fuels a demand for safer haven investments.  A big bounce in oil/stock prices could mean trouble for rates--at least temporarily.

  • As always, please keep in mind that the rates discussed generally refer to what we've termed 'best-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).