August 24, 2018
Mortgage rates began the day slightly higher. In fact, for several lenders, it was the biggest day-over-day move higher in more than 2 weeks. The key word here is "was." Things quickly changed in the mid-morning hours after Fed Chair Jerome Powell delivered his opening address at the Jackson Hole Symposium.
To make a long story short, Powell's comments erred on the side of being rate-friendly. It's not that he said the Fed would stop hiking rates or stop winding down its bond buying, but he did saw that the justifications for rate hikes and the bond-buying wind-down weren't especially troubling or urgent at the moment.
Markets were left with the impression that the Fed was a bit more willing to consider leveling-off its trajectory of tightening. "Tightening" is usually another word for "higher rates" when it comes to Fed policy and its impact on the mortgage market.
As underlying bond markets rallied on Powell's comments, more than a few lenders adjusted their rates back in line with yesterday's latest levels, effectively keeping our super flat trend intact for yet another day.
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.