Mortgage Rates End October Just Off 5-Month Highs

October 31, 2016

Mortgage Rates moved sideways to slightly lower for the 2nd day in a row, after hitting the highest levels in 5 months on Thursday.  While the positive progress is better than a sharp stick in the eye, it nonetheless leaves us right in line with highs for all practical purposes.  In fact, virtually all lenders are putting out quotes today that are indistinguishable from Thursday’s for most prospective borrowers.  The most prevalently-quoted conventional 30yr fixed rate remains 3.625% on top tier scenarios, with a handful of the most aggressive lenders at 3.5%.

The remainder of the week brings several flashpoints for market volatility, with Wednesday’s Fed announcement being the center of attention.  The Fed is not expected to announce a rate hike this week (though it’s not impossible, by any means).  Rather, the baseline assumption is that the Fed will use this meeting much like they used the 2nd to last meeting of 2015 to telegraph a hike in the final meeting of the year in December.

When you see or hear a reference to the Fed hiking or cutting “rates,” it doesn’t refer to all interest rates–merely the Fed Funds Rate (the Fed’s desired, or “target” rate for overnight borrowing/lending among the largest banks, which it achieves by adjusting several policy variables).  In other words, mortgage lenders are by no means forced to instantly raise rates if the Fed declares that it will now be targeting a higher Fed Funds Rate.  Moreover, mortgage rates are more closely-related to longer-term rates, such as 10yr Treasury yields (i.e. mortgage rates tend to move in the same direction as 10yr Treasury yields, even if short term interest rates are moving in the opposite direction).

Now for the tricky part.  Even though mortgage rates don’t follow the Fed Funds Rate, they can absolutely follow the EXPECTATIONS that precede changes in the Fed Funds Rate.  As such, if the Fed were indeed to telegraph a December rate hike, mortgage rates could face additional upward pressure.  But if this Wednesday’s Fed announcement doesn’t contain the sort of clue that many investors expect, mortgage rates have some room to move slightly lower.

Perspective is important when discussing “lower vs higher” rates at the moment.  In general, lenders will hesitate to aggressively push rates lower with the looming possibility of a Fed rate hike in December (among other things).  That means there is decreased reward for the risk of floating.  If you’re OK with the smaller victory and accept the risk that rates continue to move higher, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to float.  If you do, make a gameplan with your originator and be ready to lock immediately if rates react unfavorably to Wednesday’s Fed.

Best-Execution Rates

Best Execution
Rate Change
30 Yr FRM 3.59% -0.01
15 Yr FRM 2.90% +0.00
FHA 30 Year Fixed 3.40% +0.00
Jumbo 30 Year Fixed 3.75% -0.01