Mortgage and refinance rates today, March 16, 2022

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates inched higher yesterday. First thing that morning, I’d thought a modest fall looked more likely. But, unfortunately, markets changed direction during the day.

Mortgage rates today are essentially unpredictable. A crucial report and news conference from the Federal Reserve early this afternoon (ET) could send those rates higher or lower – or leave them much where they are. But be aware that, before those events, mortgage rates were falling modestly this morning.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 4.483% 4.505% +0.06%
Conventional 15 year fixed 3.658% 3.688% +0.01%
Conventional 20 year fixed 4.404% 4.435% Unchanged
Conventional 10 year fixed 3.681% 3.747% +0.06%
30 year fixed FHA 4.585% 5.38% +0.06%
15 year fixed FHA 3.983% 4.645% +0.08%
30 year fixed VA 4.447% 4.654% +0.22%
15 year fixed VA 2.503% 2.826% -1.26%
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?

Don’t lock on a day when mortgage rates look set to fall. My recommendations (below) are intended to give longer–term suggestions about the overall direction of those rates. So, they don’t change daily to reflect fleeting sentiments in volatile markets.

This afternoon’s Fed news conference and report could change everything or nothing for mortgage rates. See below for more analysis. I prefer to take the safer route by locking at such times. But you might choose to gamble on a good outcome. Just be aware of the stakes and risks.

So, 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 climbed to 2.16% from 2.08%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were higher soon after opening. (Bad 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 $97.88 from $96.52 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices decreased to $1,916 from $1,927 an ounce. (Neutral 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 – nudged up to 20 from 17 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. However, owing to today’s unusual circumstances, I’m saying that mortgage rates today are unpredictable.

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. 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
  2. Only “top–tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  3. 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
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. 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?

The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) concludes its current meeting this morning. And it will issue a report at 2 p.m. (ET) followed by a news conference 30 minutes later. It’s hard to overstate how critically important to mortgage rates those might be.

Few expect any shock announcements, though you can’t rule those out. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has already said he expects to unveil today only a 0.25% hike in the federal funds rate. But, as The Wall Street Journal (paywall) suggested yesterday:

The harder part of Fed officials’ deliberations might be agreeing on how to signal the likely path of rate increases in the months to follow. Worsening inflation, already at a 40–year high, could force them to accelerate the process, but they have signaled they are trying to move carefully to avoid triggering a sharp correction in financial markets.

Mortgage rates and mortgage–backed securities

More importantly for mortgage rates, Mr. Powell might give more information this afternoon about the FOMC’s plans to sell its $2.69 trillion stockpile of mortgage–backed securities. Those MBSs are the type of bond that largely determines mortgage rates.

The Fed bought many MBSs in order to keep mortgage rates artificially low as part of its pandemic–era economic stimulus program. So selling them, even at a modest pace, is likely to push those rates higher.

Mr. Powell told Congress earlier this month that he wasn’t expecting the Fed’s plans for selling MBSs (and other bonds) to be completed in time for publication today. But journalists are bound to ask him about them at the news conference.

And his answers may well immediately push mortgage rates higher or lower this afternoon. Of course, he may duck such questions, which might see those rates barely move.

The Fed’s not the only thing on today’s agenda. For example, retail sales figures for February came out earlier and turned out to be somewhat disappointing. But the FOMC’s report and news conference are likely to swamp all other economic news.

For more background, read the weekend edition of this daily article, published last Saturday.

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.

Freddie’s March 10 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.85%% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week’s 3.76%. But that won’t have counted most of the sharp rises on that Tuesday and Wednesday.

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.

Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
Fannie Mae 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
MBA 3.8% 4.0%  4.1% 4.3%

Note that those figures were issued before Russia invaded Ukraine. 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.

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