July 20, 2018
Mortgage rates improved today but it was largely a byproduct of yesterday's market movement that didn't make it onto lenders' rate sheets at the time. Mortgage lenders set rates based on trading levels in mortgage backed securities or MBS (the bonds that groups of mortgages turn into when they're traded among financial firms on the secondary market).
None of the esoterica above is too important as long as you understand that there's moment to moment trading in the bond market providing the primary consideration for mortgage lenders setting rates. If that market moves enough in the middle of the day, lenders may make mid-day adjustments to rate sheets. Yesterday saw almost enough of an improvement for lenders to offer lower rates. As such, today's morning rate sheets were better than yesterday's (because it was the first opportunity for most lenders to adjust for yesterday's strength in bond markets).
Unfortunately, the opposite happened today! Bond markets spent most of the day weakening (i.e. implying a move toward higher rates). Yet again, the move wasn't quite big enough and it didn't happen quickly enough for most lenders to adjust rates mid-day. As such, we can expect Monday's rates to be a bit higher unless the underlying bond market happens to stage a big recovery in European and Asian trading early Monday morning.
Today's Most Prevalent Rates
- 30YR FIXED - 4.625-4.75
- FHA/VA - 4.25-4.5%
- 15 YEAR FIXED - 4.125%
- 5 YEAR ARMS - 3.75-4.25% depending on the lender
Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations
- Rates moved higher in a serious way due to several big-picture headwinds, including: the Fed's rate hike outlook (and general policy tightening), the increased amount of Treasury issuance to pay for the tax bill (higher bond issuance = higher rates), and the possibility that fiscal stimulus results in higher growth/inflation.
- Despite those headwinds, the upward momentum in rates has cooled off heading into the summer months. This could merely be the eye of the storm, or it could end up being the moment where markets began to doubt that prevailing trends would continue.
- It makes sense to remain defensive (i.e. generally more lock-biased) because the headwinds mentioned above won't die down quickly. Temporary corrections can be explained away, but it will take a big change in economic fundamentals or geopolitical risk for the big picture to change. While that doesn't necessarily mean rates have to skyrocket, there's a good chance it means rates will struggle to move much lower than early 2018 lows until more convincing motivation shows up.
- 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.