Mortgage and refinance rates today, Feb. 17, 2022
Today’s mortgage and refinance rates
Average mortgage rates edged lower yesterday. And it was lovely to be able to type that after so long. But the fall was as small as Tuesday’s rise. And we’re probably seeing a plateau for a few days rather than something new – unless Russia invades Ukraine.
So far this morning, mortgage rates look likely to fall again as investors revisit their invasion fears. But, with the news so fluid, that prediction could easily be overtaken by events.
Current mortgage and refinance rates
|Conventional 30 year fixed||4.149%||4.173%||-0.05%|
|Conventional 15 year fixed||3.372%||3.402%||-0.06%|
|Conventional 20 year fixed||3.905%||3.937%||-0.05%|
|Conventional 10 year fixed||3.457%||3.526%||-0.02%|
|30 year fixed FHA||4.268%||5.054%||-0.04%|
|15 year fixed FHA||3.621%||4.188%||-0.02%|
|30 year fixed VA||3.933%||4.135%||+0.03%|
|15 year fixed VA||3.391%||3.722%||+0.01%|
|5/1 ARM VA||4.75%||3.886%||+0.03%|
|Rates are provided by our partner network, and may not reflect the market. Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.|
Should you lock a mortgage rate today?
Does yesterday’s small fall in mortgage rates herald a longer period of decreases? It might. And we’re certainly due a few days of lower rates. But I doubt this is the start of a sustained series of worthwhile falls.
I take that view because the fundamental drivers of higher mortgage rates (see below) remain strong – unless Russia invades Ukraine. That could push those rates lower, at least for a while.
So my personal rate lock recommendations remain:
- LOCK if closing in 7 days
- LOCK if closing in 15 days
- LOCK if closing in 30 days
- LOCK if closing in 45 days
- LOCK if closing in 60 days
>Related: 7 Tips to get the best refinance rate
Market data affecting today’s mortgage rates
Here’s a snapshot of the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with roughly the same time yesterday, were:
- The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.97% from 2.03%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
- Major stock indexes were lower. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they’re often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
- Oil prices dropped to $92.06 from $93.56 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
- Gold prices rose to $1,892 from $1,865 an ounce. (Good for mortgage rates*.) In general, it is better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
- CNN Business Fear & Greed index – inched higher to 39 from 38 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones
*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.
Caveats about markets and rates
Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won’t achieve its former high levels until things settle down.
So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might fall. However, be aware that “intraday swings” (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.
Important notes on today’s mortgage rates
Here are some things you need to know:
- Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read ‘How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care’
- Only “top–tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
- Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
- When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
- Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.
A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.
Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?
Mortgage rates have been rising sharply recently for two main reasons: inflation and a fear of the Federal Reserve’s possible inflation countermeasures.
We learned a little more about those possible countermeasures yesterday when the Fed published the minutes of the last meeting of its monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Well, actually, it was more that we had widespread rumors confirmed.
Still, we now know that the Fed was actively considering:
- Accelerating its timetable for hiking its interest rates
- Making those rate hikes perhaps come as frequently as roughly every six weeks – That’s how often the FOMC meets
- Developing plans for shrinking its asset base more aggressively than was on its agenda before
That last point might be especially important for mortgage rates. The Fed currently owns $2.66 trillion in mortgage–backed securities (MBSs), the type of bond that largely determines mortgage rates.
It bought many of those as part of its pandemic–era stimulus measures in order to drag mortgage rates artificially lower. And selling them aggressively should have the opposite effect.
In spite of some spectacular bouts of myopia, investors claim to be forward–looking. And they’re likely to trade in anticipation of Fed moves. So mortgage rates often move ahead of policy changes.
Yesterday’s publication won’t have changed much because so many were expecting the major points that the minutes revealed. But they leave those expectations firmly in place.
Of course, Ukraine remains a wild card. And a Russian invasion could trigger lower mortgage rates for a while, though probably not in the long run.
For a more detailed look at what’s happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this report.
Recently – Updated today
Over much of 2020, the overall trend for mortgage rates was clearly downward. And a new, weekly all–time low was set on 16 occasions that year, according to Freddie Mac.
The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.
Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.
Freddie’s Feb. 17 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.92% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.69%.
Expert mortgage rate forecasts
Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.
And here are their current rate forecasts for the four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).
The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie’s were published on Jan. 19 and Freddie’s and the MBA’s on Jan. 21.
Personally, I was surprised that Fannie Mae only slightly increased its rate forecasts in January. It believes that rates for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages will average 3.2% over the current quarter. But, on the day its figures were published, we reported those for conventional loans were already up to 3.87%.
Do Fannie’s economists expect those rates to plummet later this month or in February or March and remain lower in the following quarters? If so, they know something that I don’t. And that their peers in Freddie and the MBA’s teams don’t, either, though I’m less optimistic than any of them.
Of course, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.
Find your lowest rate today
You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:
“Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.”
Mortgage rate methodology
The Mortgage Reports receives rates based on selected criteria from multiple lending partners each day. We arrive at an average rate and APR for each loan type to display in our chart. Because we average an array of rates, it gives you a better idea of what you might find in the marketplace. Furthermore, we average rates for the same loan types. For example, FHA fixed with FHA fixed. The end result is a good snapshot of daily rates and how they change over time.
The information contained on The Mortgage Reports website is for informational purposes only and is not an advertisement for products offered by Full Beaker. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of Full Beaker, its officers, parent, or affiliates.