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Mortgage Rates Little-Changed Despite Market Volatility

By: Matthew Graham
Posted Wed, Mar 7 2018, 3:49 PM

Mortgage rates stayed fairly close to yesterday's levels as underlying bond markets experienced some volatility throughout the course of the day.  If mortgage lenders were forced to create rate sheets earlier in the morning, things would have looked very good at around 6am this morning.  Financial markets were still reacting to yesterday's after-hours news of Gary Cohn's resignation.  This resulted in stocks and bond yields moving lower.

Markets were more willing to get back to business today, with stocks and bond yields ("rates") rising together at 9:30am.  By the end of the day, both had returned in line with yesterday's latest levels.  This not only leaves mortgage rates in roughly the same territory, but it also suggests the downtrend in stocks and rates that began in late Febraury is potentially over.  Mortgage borrowers should already be favoring locking vs floating in 2018, but today's trading reinforces that stance.

Loan Originator Perspective

Bonds swung from small gains to losses today, but the oscillation wasn't enough to trigger widespread reprices.  Investors are still mulling the potential effects of tariffs and trade wars, and uncertainty typically boosts bonds.  We're still far from a "go ahead, float your rate" environment though, I'm locking early to remove risk.  -Ted Rood, Senior Originator

I continue to see no advantage to floating in today's markets.   Bonds are range bound but are more likely to break higher than lower, so locking as soon as possible continues to be the wise move. -Victor Burek

Today's Most Prevalent Rates

  • 30YR FIXED - 4.5-4.625%
  • FHA/VA - 4.375%
  • 15 YEAR FIXED - 3.875%
  • 5 YEAR ARMS -  3.5-3.75% depending on the lender

Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations

  • 2017 had proven to be a relatively good year for mortgage rates despite widespread expectations for a stronger push higher after the presidential election in late 2016. 

  • While rates remain low in absolute terms, they moved higher in a more threatening way heading into the 4th quarter, relative to the stability and improvement seen earlier in 2017

  • The default stance for now is that this trend toward higher rates has the potential to continue.  It will take more than a few great days here and there for that outlook to change.

  • For weeks, this bullet point had warned about recent stability inviting a bigger dose of volatility.  That volatility is now here.  As such, locking is generally the better choice until the volatility is clearly dying down.
  • Rates discussed refer to the most frequently-quoted, conforming, conventional 30yr fixed rate for top tier borrowers among average to well-priced lenders.  The rates generally assume little-to-no origination or discount except as noted when applicable.  Rates appearing on this page are "effective rates" that take day-to-day changes in upfront costs into consideration.

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