Mortgage rates fell moderately today, largely in response to the Federal Reserve's policy announcement. The Fed is in charge of setting a key short-term rate that impacts the entire financial market by varying degrees. The Fed does NOT set fixed mortgage rates, but in general, the friendlier the Fed with its monetary policy, the better it is for the entire spectrum of rates.
The Fed was quite simply friendlier than expected today. Investors were already planning on some sort of adjustment in the verbiage promising ongoing rate hikes and decreases in the amount of bonds purchased directly by the Fed. We got that, and more. For all intents and purposes, today's announcement and press conference could be interpreted as the Fed saying it's done hiking rates until further notice and would only resume hiking if economic data at home and abroad justifies it.
Bonds and stocks both improved immediately. When bonds improve enough, mortgage lenders often lower rates in the middle of the day. Today's gains were just enough for that to happen for a majority of lenders. The improvements bring rates back to levels seen 3 weeks ago, although much of that has to do with yesterday's levels providing an already-fairly-low baseline.
Loan Originator Perspective
Today's Fed Statement was generally bond-friendly, and led to a respectable PM rally. We're still near within recent ranges, however, and it's too early to call this a trend to lower rates. I'll be assessing my unlocked files by tomorrow, typically prefer to lock prior to NFP reports. -Ted Rood, Senior Originator
Today's Most Prevalent Rates
- 30YR FIXED - 4.5%
- FHA/VA - 4.25%
- 15 YEAR FIXED - 4.125%
- 5 YEAR ARMS - 4.25%-4.625% depending on the lender
Ongoing Lock/Float Considerations
- Headwinds that had plagued rates for most of the past 2 years began to die down in late 2018. A rapid decline in the stock market certainly helped drive investors into bonds (which helps rates) Highest rates in more than 7 years in Oct/Nov. 8-month lows by the end of the year
- This is a bit of a crossroads. The rising rate environment could flare up again. We may look back at Oct/Nov and see a long-term ceiling, or we may look back at early December and see a temporary correction before more pain.
- Either way, late 2018 was a sign that rates are willing to take opportunities presented to them. From here, it will be up to economic data, fiscal policies, and the stock market to decide on the next set of opportunities. The rougher the overall outlook, the better interest rates tend to do.
- 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.