March 9, 2018
Mortgage rates must really like being where they are right now, because they've been at roughly the same levels for the past 5 days! Not only is this highly out of character for 2018, it's not even that common in general (might happen a few times a year, historically). And while the stability was relatively easy to reconcile during the first 4 days of the week, it comes as a surprise today.
Reason being: the important jobs report was much stronger than expected and bond markets (which underlie rates) reacted in a clearly negative way. In other words, bonds suggested that rates should move noticeably higher today. There are two ways to make sense of this. On one hand, yesterday's bond market movements suggested improvement in rates that never materialized. In that sense, we were "owed," for lack of a better term.
On the other hand, rates are more or less up against their long-term ceiling levels and when that happens, the normal cause and effect between bond markets and rates becomes muted. From a strategy standpoint, this can be useful. Those inclined to roll the dice with respect to locking their rate could wait to do so until rising rates force their hand. In other words, if rates aren't eager to move, why bother locking? The only problem there is that rates WILL move soon, and if they move higher, anyone floating would be forced to lock at a loss in order to avoid the additional losses that such a move would imply. Most prospective borrowers have been and continue to be best-served by a defensive stance that favors locking.
Loan Originator Perspective
The robust February jobs report (aka NFP) released this morning continued bonds' recent downturn. While today's losses weren't as bad as they might have been, rates are still near 4 year highs. Locking early remains the safe (and sane) route here. -Ted Rood, Senior Originator
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.