Mortgage and refinance rates today, March 4, 2022
Today’s mortgage and refinance rates
Average mortgage rates barely moved yesterday, just inching higher. And, following the roller coaster of sharp rises and falls this week, that counts as a win.
First thing this morning, markets were signaling that mortgage rates today might fall sharply. And that’s despite a strong jobs report earlier. Russia’s shelling overnight of a Ukrainian nuclear power station, the biggest in Europe, understandably spooked investors.
Current mortgage and refinance rates
|Conventional 30 year fixed||4.063%||4.085%||-0.03%|
|Conventional 15 year fixed||3.392%||3.424%||-0.03%|
|Conventional 20 year fixed||3.931%||3.968%||-0.06%|
|Conventional 10 year fixed||3.318%||3.386%||-0.08%|
|30 year fixed FHA||4.21%||4.996%||-0.03%|
|15 year fixed FHA||3.656%||4.313%||-0.06%|
|30 year fixed VA||4.215%||4.423%||+0.01%|
|15 year fixed VA||3.213%||3.542%||-0.16%|
|5/1 ARM VA||4.75%||3.754%||Unchanged|
|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?
Russia’s activities in Ukraine still have the capacity to shock markets. And we’ll likely see that in action today.
But, I suspect, investors’ responses to those are likely to affect mortgage rates increasingly occasionally and briefly. And it would probably take an outrageous atrocity (yes, the whole invasion is atrocious) to send those rates lower for long.
Here at home, we’re looking at a highly likely Federal Reserve rate hike in 12 days. And an even higher inflation rate than the current one due to Russia’s war and its impact on oil prices and other commodities. On days when the news from Ukraine is less awful, those are likely to push mortgage rates higher.
Don’t lock your mortgage rate today or any morning when those rates look likely to fall. But my personal rate lock recommendations for the longer term 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 tumbled to 1.73% from 1.89%. (Very good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
- Major stock indexes fell soon after opening. (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 rose to $113.45 from $109.03 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
- Gold prices inched up to $1,961 from $1,931 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 – plunged to 20 from 26 out of 100. (Good 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 will happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.
Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?
Not much can distract markets from the Federal Reserve’s plans to counter inflation and the economic consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine. But the official, monthly employment situation report is rarely ignored.
This morning’s one for February was spectacularly good. With 678,000 new jobs added to nonfarm payrolls compared with analysts’ forecasts of 440,000. The unemployment rate fell to 3.8% from 4% in January.
Usually, good employment figures push mortgage rates higher while bad ones drag them lower. But that’s not the case today. And Ukraine again trumps domestic news.
Yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was back on Capitol Hill, this time testifying before the Senate Banking Committee. And he confirmed that the war in Ukraine had had little effect on the Fed’s plans.
“I do think it’s going to be appropriate for us to proceed along the lines we had in mind before the Ukraine invasion happened,” he told the committee.
The New York Times’s (paywall) report of the proceedings says:
Asked if the Fed was prepared to do whatever it took to control inflation – even if that meant temporarily harming the economy, as Paul Volcker did while Fed chair in the early 1980s – Mr. Powell said it was.
Mr. Volcker allowed the unemployment rate to reach 10%, triggering a recession in 1981–82. And, no doubt, Mr. Powell will be hoping to avoid such pain.
But he does seem determined to act aggressively against inflation. “Mortgage rates will go up, the rates for car loans – all of those rates that affect consumers’ buying decisions,” he said [my emphasis]. “Housing prices won’t go up as much, and equity prices won’t go up as much, so people will spend less.”
Of course, the war in Ukraine could still push mortgage rates lower. But I’d be surprised if it were to do so again as sharply as it did earlier this week. And I doubt any falls will be sustained. As I said at the start of this week when identifying what’s really going to drive mortgage rates on most days, “It’s the Fed, stupid!”
For a more detailed look at what’s happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this report.
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, the rises have grown more pronounced since last September, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.
Freddie’s March 3 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.76% (with 0.8 fees and points), down from the previous week’s 3.89%. But that report won’t have included that Wednesday’s sharp rise.
Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points (“with 0.8 fees and points”) on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don’t do that, your rate would be closer to the ones we and others quote.
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 Feb. 18 and the MBA’s on Feb. 25. But Freddie now publishes these forecasts every quarter, most recently on Jan. 21.
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.