Date Archives: November 2020

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November
30

DECEMBER EVENTS

Dec 1 World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day serves to remember those who have died from AIDS and to bring about awareness of HIV/AIDS through education and publicly held events. HIV is a virus that attacks the body's immune system and makes it progressively more difficult to fight infections and diseases. Once HIV advances and becomes so severe that the body's immune system is too weak to fight off many infections and diseases, it is called AIDS. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS and if left untreated by antiretroviral medication, patients' immune systems fail to lead to death. World AIDS Day is also an opportunity for people to show their support for people living with HIV.

World AIDS Day is one of the 8 WHO Global Health Days. The day was created by the World Health Organization in 1988. Since its inception over two decades ago, the world has managed to halt and reverse the spread of HIV. According to the WHO, the occurrence of new cases has decreased 35% between 2000 and 2015, while AIDS-related deaths have decreased by 24% over the same time frame, all thanks to antiretroviral treatments and widespread AIDS education and awareness. World AIDS Day is observed on December 1st of each year.

Dec 2 International Day for the Abolition of Slavery History

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery aims to end slavery in the world. Contemporary forms of slavery include sexual exploitation, forced marriage, trafficking of persons and recruitment of children for armed conflict. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are currently 21 million people enslaved in the world, a business that generates around 150 billion US dollars in illegal profits every year.

The International Day for the Abolition of Slavery was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as a day to be celebrated every December 2nd. The day marks the 1949 adoption of the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others.

Dec 3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities History

International Day of Persons with Disabilities seeks to empower the rights of persons with disabilities. This day aims to raise awareness about the situation of people with disabilities in regards to their political, social, economic, and cultural life. It aims to increase their wellbeing and promote their rights.

International Day or Persons with Disabilities was established in 1992 by the U.N General Assembly. It is observed annually on December 3rd.

Dec 4 National Cookie Day History

National Cookie Day promotes the sweet, baked treat. Cookies are thin, flat, crunchy, sometimes chewy, treats. They are typically made with flour, sugar, and a type of oil or fat.

National Cookie Day was established in 1987 by Blue Chip Cookie Company employee Matt Nader. It is observed annually on November 4th.

Dec 5 International Volunteer Day History

International Volunteer Day seeks to raise awareness about the contributions of volunteers. This day recognizes and celebrates the efforts of organizations and volunteers toward their communities. It encourages volunteering and aims to improve communication between the U.N, governments, and volunteer-involved organizations.

International Volunteer Day was established in 1985 by the U.N General Assembly. It is observed annually on December 5th.

Dec 6 Saint Nicholas Day History

Saint Nicholas Day seeks to celebrate the patron saint Nicholas of Myra. This day aims to recognize his contributions to the poor and his reputation for bringing gifts to those in need. Saint Nicholas of Myra was born in the 3rd century. He became well known for his charitable nature and actions and would later become the inspiration for the jolly Santa Claus.

Saint Nicholas Day is observed annually on December 6th.

Dec 7 Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day History

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day seeks to honor the victims of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, an American Naval Station. The attack is often cited as the catalyst for American involvement in the Second World War, given that President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan the following day.

At 8am on December 7th, 1941, without prior warning, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service attacked a Naval Station at Pearl Harbor, located on Oahu, Hawaii. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes. In total, 2,403 people perished, another 1,178 were injured, four U.S. Navy battleships were sunk and 188 aircrafts were destroyed. The aim of the attack was to immobilize the U.S. Pacific Fleet, which would allow Japan to advance into Malaya and Dutch East Indies. On August 23, 1994, the United States Congress passed Public Law 103-308 to designate December 7 of each year as the National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Dec 8 Immaculate Conception History

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the primarily Roman Catholic doctrine that the Virgin Mary was born without sin. It is held on December 8.

Most Christians think of the Immaculate Conception as the union between Mary and the Holy Spirit that produced Jesus. But in keeping with the Roman Catholic doctrine that Mary lived a life without sin, her conception was immaculate, or without sin.

Dec 9 Genocide Prevention Day History

International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime seeks to raise awareness about the Genocide convention. The genocide convention is a list of articles that dictate prevention methods and punishments should a nation be on the verge of genocide. It was adopted by the UN in 1948.

International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime aims to acknowledge and honor the victims of Genocide. It is observed annually on December 9th.

Dec 10 Hanukkah History

Chanukah (Hebrew: חנוכה) is an eight day Jewish festival, also known as the festival of lights. On each day a Menorah (an eight branched candelabra) is lit with an ascending number of candles to match the day. The reason for Chanukah is based on the story of the Maccabees battle with the Greeks. It is told that one pure bottle of olive oil lasted for eight days in the Holy Temple. It should have lasted only for the first day.

Dec 11 International Mountain Day History

International Mountain Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of mountains. This day aims to conserve mountain biodiversity by advocating for sustainable mountain development practices like ecosystem restoration. Biodiversity encompasses all living organisms within an ecosystem. It is an indicator of the diversity of life within a region. Mountains serve as a hotspot for almost half the world's biodiversity. They are also home to fifteen percent of the world's population.

International Mountain Day was established in 2002 by the U.N General Assemble. It is observed annually on December 11th.

Dec 12 International Day of Neutrality History

International Day of Neutrality seeks to strengthen peace and security in appropriate regions and at a global level. This day aims to develop peaceful, friendly, and mutually beneficial relations between different countries of the world.

International Day of Neutrality was established in 2017 by the U.N General Assembly. It is observed annually on December 12th.

Dec 13 National Day Of The Horse History

National Day of the Horse seeks to promote appreciation of horses. Horses are used as a means of transportation and for activities such as horse-back riding. Before the invention of the steam locomotive in the 1800s, the most popular way to travel was by horse.

There are about 2 million people in the United States that own horses. According to Michigan State University, horses can have a mood-altering effect and improve one's state. Activities involving horses can develop critical thinking and communication.

Dec 14 Green Monday History

Green Monday aims to promote sustainability through green lifestyle choices. This day aims to promote recycling and reusing while reducing global energy consumption. Switching to a vegetarian diet can also help to conserve resources and reduce the human carbon footprint.

Green Monday is observed annually on the second Monday in December every year.

Dec 15 Bill of Rights Day History

Bill of Rights Day celebrates the signing of the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Amendments protect rights such as freedom of speech, protest, and guarantees equal protection under the law. It was signed on December 15, 1791 and was written by James Madison.

In November 1941, President Franklin D Roosevelt declared December 15th as Bill of Rights Day.

Dec 17 Wright Brothers Day History

Wright Brothers Day celebrates Orville and Wilbur Wright who are credited with inventing the first airplane. They flew the first engine-powered, manned airplane on December 17, 1903 on the shores of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They also are given credit with advancing aviation in warfare and as a common form of transportation.

Dec 18 International Migrants Day History

International Migrants Day serves to celebrate the movement of migrants and their contribution to world development. Globalization has made travel much easier and as such the world has become more connected. International Migrants Day was appointed by the UN General Assembly in 2000. It is observed annually on December 18.

Dec 19 Super Saturday History

Super Saturday marks the end of the holiday shopping season. As the Christmas holidays approach, Super Saturday aims to provide one day of sales for those who have yet to purchase their Christmas gifts.

Super Saturday is celebrated every year on the Saturday before December 25. Some years, it can fall on December 24th (like in 2016).

Dec 20 International Human Solidarity Day History

International Human Solidarity Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of solidarity. This day aims to celebrate unity in diversity. It further aims to remind governments to respect their commitments to international agreements. It encourages them to reach for new initiatives in order to eradicate poverty.

International Human Solidarity Day was established in 2005 by the U.N General Assem

Dec 21 Winter Solstice History

The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year as the Northern Hemisphere is angled the farthest away from the Sun on this day. The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere happens every year around December 21 or 22.

Dec 25 Christmas History

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. For modern Christians it also starts a 12-day Christmas season that begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. Churches celebrate Christmas with services on Christmas Eve and often midnight masses.

While the holiday is religious in origin, many cultures, even those without Christian ideologies, celebrate this holiday. This celebration often centers around Santa Claus, a mythical figure dressed in a red suit, based on Saint Nicholas. Tradition has it that on Christmas morning, Santa brings gifts for children who have been good and coal for those who have been naughty.

Dec 26 Boxing Day History

Boxing Day is a holiday that serves to remember the old practice of giving boxes on the day after Christmas. The practice of Boxing Day was first mentioned in English Member of Parliament Samuel Pepys' diary entry from December 19th 1663, when he referred to "giving something to the boy' box against Christmas". The day after Christmas was traditionally a time when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts from their employers, clients or masters. These Christmas boxes of food, money or presents served to thank the workers for the years of service. In the past, servants would be given the day off - having worked Christmas Day - to visit their families, taking with them the boxes from their masters.

Today, Boxing Day is usually associated with two things: shopping and eating Christmas dinner leftovers whilst watching TV. Stores generally offer large discounts and open very early. Boxing Day is a bank holiday in the UK and it is celebrated annually on December 26th. Some European countries, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands and Scandinavia celebrate the 26th of December as a Second Christmas Day but with much less shopping involved.

Dec 27 St John History

The Feast of St. John the Apostle commemorates his life. He was one Jesus' 12 disciples. He was one of the three disciples, which included Peter and James, who were included in some of the most important events in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, including Jesus' crucifixion and transfiguration.

Traditionally, St John is known as the author of the Gospel of John (one of four gospels in the New Testament), John I, II, and III, and the Revelation of John. However, the authorship of the works is disputed.

November
25

How the Turkey Trot Became the Most Popular Race in America

A brief history of the oldest continuous footrace on the continent.

Much of the Turkey Trot's modern-day popularity can be attributed to its family-friendly draw.

If you think about it, the Turkey Trot makes perfect sense. While we don't believe you need to "earn your meal," or "run off your pie," we do believe in balance, and turkey trots unite the caloric extravaganza that is Thanksgiving with the calorie-burning activity that is running. Perhaps that's why in 2015, Thanksgiving eclipsed the Fourth of July as the most popular day to run a race, drawing nearly a million participants to more than 1,000 different events across the country.

But while the Turkey Trot's popularity is a modern phenomenon, its origins stretch all the way back to 1896 (crazy, right?).

The inaugural trot took place 124 years ago in Buffalo, New York. The 8K cross-country race, hosted by the local YMCA that Thanksgiving Day, drew just six participants, and only four of them made it to the finish line. One runner excused himself after two miles; another dropped out when his "late breakfast refused to keep in its proper place." The winner, Henry A. Allison, crossed the line in 31 minutes and 12 seconds, averaging a six-minute-per-mile pace.

[Smash your goals with a Runner's World Training Plan, designed for any speed and any distance.]

Despite its lackluster beginnings, the race was held again the next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. In fact, it's been held every single year since, which makes it the oldest continuous footrace in North America. Yes, the Turkey Trot is older than San Francisco's Bay to Breakers, which began in 1912, and even the Boston Marathon, which didn't kick off until 1897. (The Buffalo race is also doing a hybrid virtual/small live race in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic to keep its streak alive.)

But just how did a single quaint tradition transform into a nationwide spectacular?

As the Buffalo race picked up steam in the early 1900s, the concept spread, and trots began popping up along the East Coast. Eventually, the concept reached cities across the country, including New Orleans (1907), Berwick, Pennsylvania (1908), Cincinnati, Ohio (1909) and Troy, New York (1916).

As the years passed and the popularity of running grew, so did the tradition of the trot. The iconic Manchester Road Race, one of New England's oldest and most storied road races, began on Thanksgiving Day in 1927 with just a dozen runners. The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot, now one of the largest races in the country with more than 20,000 finishers in recent years, kicked off in 1967 with just 107 runners.

Photograph courtesy of YMCA Buffalo Niagara.

Winner of the 1989 YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot, Dr. David O'Keefe, with his family after the race. O'Keefe's time of 23:13 still stands as the course record.
YMCA BUFFALO NIAGARA
Decades passed. For one reason or another, people kept trotting. In 1972, women joined the ranks of the Buffalo Turkey Trot—and the Boston Marathon—for the first time. Soon, many more women picked up the sport of running—and the tradition of trotting. And then the race garnered the fun, family-friendly vibe that it's known for today.

Geoffrey Falkner, communications director for the historic Buffalo Turkey Trot, estimates that costumes became a race tradition in the early 1980s, when runners began dressing up as Canadian hockey players. Others soon followed suit, donning turkey, pilgrim, and other autumnal-themed ensembles. These days, costumes are (nearly) as endemic to turkey trots as the postrace turkey itself.

As for the course of the historic Buffalo race, it's changed many times over the years as the number of racers has swelled. Yet two constants remain: the distance—5 miles—and the fact that it's held on Thanksgiving day every single year—come rain, sleet, or snow.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the race's longevity—besides COVID-19 in 2020—was a monster blizzard in 2000, which dumped 25 inches of snow in 24 hours just three days before Thanksgiving. But Buffalo's then mayor Anthony Masiello called for the streets to be cleared—and they were, just in time for 3,500 runners to take to the starting line.

The modern day YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot

The modern day YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot.
YMCA BUFFALO NIAGARA

"It's basically one big family and friend reunion," said Falkner when asked to explain the race's longevity. "And it's also a way for people to do something healthy for themselves and give back to the community." Since its origins, the race has been a fundraiser for the local YMCA.

The course itself, a point-to-point journey, charts through the historic downtown area, passing centuries-old homes on Delaware Avenue. Thousands of spectators line the entire way, cheering trotters as they run under the railroad trestles, alongside the Forest Lawn Cemetery, and finish in front of the convention center.

Much of the Turkey Trot's modern-day popularity can be attributed to its family-friendly draw.

Much of the Turkey Trot's modern-day popularity can be attributed to its family-friendly draw.
CONVERGING PHOTOGRAPHY, DES MOINES TURKEY TROT

The number of participants in the Buffalo race surpassed 10,000 in 2008, and in recent years, reached 14,000, which is where it's now capped, making it the fourth largest Turkey Trot in the country. Within that field are runners from across the U.S.—and around the world. Falkner said the race has drawn participants from Ireland, the U.K., and even as far away as Australia, demonstrating the race's appeal beyond just turkey-loving Americans.

"It's a crazy day between the costumes and the running and the shenanigans," said Falkner, adding that family traditions of trotting also help keep the race alive. The race has a long history streakers, like Gus Gressel, who ran (and won) his first trot in 1907, and continued competing well into his 70s, missing just one race in approximately 50 years for an injured foot.

"It's an amazing tradition, and we are honored to keep it going," Falkner said.

In recent years, Turkey Trot participation across the country has continued to boom. According to Running USA, more than 901,753 people finished a trot in 2015, up from 684,334 in 2011, marking a more than 30 percent increase in four years.

And while each iteration introduces its own unique elements, common themes emerge: a fun, family-friendly race, an oftentimes charitable component, and almost always a focus more on the ritual of the trot and the togetherness it inspires rather than a hardcore, competitive spirit.

This special trifecta is what makes the race so popular, say those in the trot industry.

unners line up for the Des Moines Turkey Trot, which started just three years ago.

Runners line up for the Des Moines Turkey Trot, which started just three years ago.
CONVERGING PHOTOGRAPHY, DES MOINES TURKEY TROT

David Benjes, race director of the Louisville Turkey Trot in Louisville, Colorado, explains it this way: "Turkey trots are sort of symbolic of Thanksgiving," he said. "You get together with close friends and family and have a feel good moment. Running a race provides that feel good moment for people in a unique way."

There's also the fact that trotting provides a feel-good, active start to a day otherwise spent lounging around, socializing, or cheering on your favorite team.

"It's nice to go and do something physical before you sit down and watch football for the next few days," said Laura Smidt, assistant race director for the Des Moines Turkey Trot, which started in 2014 and will draw a crowd of about 4,000 each year.

And lastly, there's the fact that the trot is more about having a fun time rather than achieving a certain time. "It's not intimidating," said Smidt. "It's not one of those races that you have to train for." Those original trotters in 1896 may disagree—after all, two of them never made it to the finish line—but then again, crossing the finish line isn't really the purpose of the trot. It's more about the community-wide connectedness experienced along the way. And also the post-race gobbling.

November
23

Today's mortgage and refinance rates brought to you by themortgagereports.com

Average mortgage rates edged lower last Friday, as we predicted. And conventional loans started out this morning at 3% (3% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

More good news on the vaccine front emerged overnight. And we're expecting mortgage rates to rise today, though perhaps only slightly and briefly.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 23rd, 2020)

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.


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Nobody knows the ideal moment to lock a mortgage rate. There's simply too much in play to have complete certainty.

But now isn't a bad time at all. After all, there's a good chance rates for purchase mortgages are at an all-time low. And those for refinances aren't far behind.

But I wouldn't lock today unless I were near to closing. And that's because I suspect yet lower rates are in prospect, though probably not today.

See "Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?" (below) for more. Meanwhile, my personal rate lock recommendations are:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

But with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates 

Here's the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time last Friday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys inched higher to 0.86% from 0.85%. (Bad for mortgage rates because it was falling after rises yesterday.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were higher on 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 happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $42.81 from $41.52 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices fell to $1,862 from $1,877 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it's 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 — Jumped to 75 from 66 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. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, they're looking OK for mortgage rates today.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 23rd, 2020)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed's ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can't work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read "For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here's why" if you want to understand this aspect of what's happening
  2. 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
  3. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  4. 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
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are currently appreciably higher following a regulatory change

So there's a lot going on here. 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?

Today

I think mortgage rates are likely rise today. That's on the back of good news about another COVID-19 vaccine. This time it's from British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, which revealed a 90% effectiveness rate. Trials suggest that it's particularly good at protecting older folk, and it's easy to store and transport.

However, note that the market bounces arising from good news about vaccines has so far been short-lived: lasting from a couple of days to a few hours.

And I suspect that lower rates are in prospect. Amid the gloom of the raging pandemic, it's hard to imagine what good economic news is going to emerge that's likely to push them significantly higher — at least for long.

One exception might be President Donald Trump conceding the presidential race. That would remove some uncertainty and might push rates higher. But even that bump might not last long.

Of course, some periods when rates are higher are inevitable. Those are responses to passing economic reports and news cycles. But October reports are ancient history because the coronavirus is spreading — and transforming the economic landscape — so quickly. And ones for this month look unlikely to deliver much to cheer.

Mortgage rates almost always fall during bad economic times. That's why they're at their lowest ever now. How likely do you think it is that the economy's suddenly going to start looking better?

Recently

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set during each of the weeks ending Oct. 15 and 22 and Nov. 5 and 19 according to Freddie Mac. Last Thursday's record low was the 13th this year.

But note that Freddie's figures relate to purchase mortgages alone and ignore refinances. And if you average out across both, rates have been consistently higher than the all-time low since a record set in August. The gap between the two has been widened by a controversial regulatory change.

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 rates forecasts for the last quarter of 2020 (Q4/20) and the first three of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21 and Q3/21).

But note that Fannie's (released on Nov. 17) and the MBA's (also Nov. 17) are updated monthly. However, Freddie's are now published quarterly. And its latest was released on Oct. 14.

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Freddie Mac 3.0% 3.0% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.9% 3.0% 3.0% 3.2%

So predictions vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been made nervous by the pandemic. And they're restricting their offerings to just the most vanilla-flavored mortgages and refinances.

But others remain brave. And you can still probably find the cash-out refinance, investment mortgage or jumbo loan you want. You just have to shop around more widely.

But, of course, you should be comparison shopping 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.

November
20

High schools prepare for holiday concerts

As the first semester of school begins to wrap up and the stress of the holiday season falls upon the community, everyone's caught up in the hustle and bustle.

Students are finishing up finals, parents and friends shop for one another and area high schools prep for final concerts before winter break.

In a town with three big high schools, these concerts are plentiful and free to attend for those who want to support the local youth in their musical endeavors.

Each high school's big concert is known for something slightly different, making for a well-rounded community experience.

Originality grows at West

West's holiday concert is known for its adherence to tradition, but that doesn't mean that they're also not unique in their own way.

With student leaders who help to make the music and concert great as well as the new music picks every year, West sprinkles in some unique pieces with its traditions.

"One thing that we always perform here, it's a tradition, is 'O Holy Night.' It was arranged by Dr. David Dickau and so that's one of Mankato West's traditions. It is performed by the wind ensemble, the concert choir and the orchestra. It's the big concert finale," said West Band Director Brady Krusemark.

The traditions don't end there. The orchestra also performs "Sleigh Ride," every year.

Despite these long-standing musical traditions, West plans to spice things up this year with some new and challenging pieces.

"We're also performing a piece called 'Russian Christmas Music.' It's all about the frozen tundra and Russia pre-World War I," Krusemark said.

Despite the difficulty of the songs performed, the students are able to use their skills to perform these challenging pieces accurately and well.

"Students are making some really mature music, and I don't think high school students get enough credit for being as mature as they are; for being able to communicate really deep emotions through music, but they're doing that," Krusemark said.

One student, 17-year-old Emily Schanbacher, said she's especially excited for some of the more difficult songs, specifically, "The Holly and the Ivy."

"I really like that part because it took us a lot of time to bring it together," Schanbacher said. "There were a lot of tempo fluctuation issues that we were having, but it sounds really pretty and I really like it."

West performs two holiday concerts: one on Monday, the other on Friday.

Friday night's concert features the wind ensemble, which is its top band, the concert choir, which is its top choir, and the orchestra.

Monday will have the concert band, symphonic band and Scarlett choir.

This gives the community two opportunities to go out and support the Mankato West band, and it's no secret that both the director and the students would love to have as many people as possible come out.

"I think people should come to this concert to see their friends and see how far we've come," Schanbacher said. "I'm looking forward to seeing my family and friends show up and see our hard work kind of come together."

Many of the students, like Schanbacher, have been in band since they were in sixth grade. This means their skills have improved substantially over the years.

"Each band is unique every year. Our student leaders bring their unique styles. Our band this year has been working really hard and performing some really challenging music," Krusemark said.

Concert-goers can expect a variety of music. This includes holiday music and some non-traditional music, as well.

Although this is the most traditional concert West puts on all year because of the songs they perform on a year-to-year basis, this will be unique with the student talent, new music and support from the community.

Loyola concert includes a wide range of talent

Unlike many of the other schools in the area, the Loyola concert will include a wider range of students.

This means that their holiday band concert will include grades 6-12, showing off their students' different levels of skill and displaying their growth throughout the years.

"The students always look forward to this concert as it is a special time of year on the hill," said Amy Wightkin, a Loyola band teacher.

Loyola will be performing everything from the famous "Greensleeves" to the classic Christmas carol "Deck the Halls."

The simpler songs along with the more challenging pieces will create a great variety for those attending.

Multicultural mix of music at East

Mankato East will celebrate the holiday season with many cultures.

"We have everything from secular music, to African to Hanukkah," said East Band Director Craig Kopetzki.

They'll be playing anything from the theme song of "Christmas Vacation" and end with "O Holy Night."

Similar to West, this concert includes the orchestra, choir and band, and will be broken up into two separate concerts.

Songs from either of the concerts include "Breath of Heaven" and "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" along with sacred Christmas music. According to Kopetzki, the choir may also perform a piece in Swahili at one of the concerts.

"I think the community wants to be entertained with holiday music. It just kind of adds to the festivity of the season," Kopetzki said.

Not only does he expect these two concerts to be a fantastic way to get into the holiday festivities, but he also believes that this will be a great representation of cultures.

November
16

Find the best pies in America, from a classic Southern pecan to a funky pie fit for a king.

Grab a Slice

Finish off any feast with an irresistible piece of pie. Something about the buttery crust and rich filling brings comfort and nostalgia to the table, and we've rounded up plenty of restaurants dishing out just-like-mama-made pecan, pumpkin and apple pies. There are also outside-the-crust options (could you turn down something called the Fat Elvis Pie?), so check out our coast-to-coast pie guide and grab a slice (or two)!

Dangerously Delicious Pies

With a full roster of sweet and savory pies and quiches, this Baltimore pie palace knows how to fill a crust or two. The top-selling slice is the Baltimore Bomb Pie, which Duff Goldman deemed "the best of the best" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. It's loaded with crushed Berger cookies (local specialties that are smothered in chocolate frosting), which melt down into a sweet vanilla chess filling. Chess is a transparent custard, and the Baltimore Bomb's chess filling is eggy, smooth and lush, with a hint of cornmeal and vinegar to cut the rich sweetness. According to Duff, "you lose consciousness for a few minutes after eating this pie," but chances are that you won't mind.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

Nothing's more American than traditional apple pie, but this Brooklyn-based bakery manages to improve on the classic with a mouthwatering salted caramel version. Inspired by the caramel-coated apples found at carnivals, the ladies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds went above and beyond to replicate the hand-held treat in a pie shell. They sprinkle their homemade caramel with flecks of sea salt and dust Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apple slices with a warm spice mixture of allspice, nutmeg and black pepper, plus a few dashes of angostura bitters for an herbal edge. The salty-sweet finished slice is a "taste bud waker-upper" and was praised by Bobby as "what apple pie would look like if your grandma had game" on The Best Thing I Ever Ate.

Butter & Scotch

This retro-style cafe and bar specializes in liquor-infused treats. A must-try is the Bourbon Ginger Pecan pie, with a filling of organic pecans, three types of ginger (dried, fresh and candied) and a shot of bourbon. On Guilty Pleasures, Lorraine Pascal calls it an "X-rated version of a pecan pie." It's built on top of an all-butter crust and served warm with a dollop of whipped cream.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company

This Windy City house of pie is best known for its sweet slice inspired by "The King of Rock 'n' Roll." As a tribute to Elvis and his favorite peanut butter-banana sandwich, Hoosier Mama created the Fat Elvis: an incredibly indulgent layered pie of dark chocolate pastry cream, thick citrus-spiked banana slices and peanut butter cream cheese filling, all housed inside a crust of crushed graham crackers, peanuts and pretzels. Sprinkled with a topping of pretzel bits and banana chips, this creamy confection is certainly fit for a king. After sneaking a sliver for himself on Sugar High, Duff described it as "a peanut butter slap in the face," and he was sure Elvis would've written a song about this dreamy, soul-satisfying pie.

Baked

Nestled in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, this off-the-beaten-path bakery defines itself with classic American desserts, including winning apple and pecan pies. A couple of "dessert archaeologists," the owners love to take old-fashioned recipes and breathe new life into them, which led to the invention of their Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie. This reimagined pie is so popular that Bobby Flay challenged it to a Throwdown against his own take on banana cream. Not only did this nutty banana cream pie win Bobby's vote, but it keeps the locals lining up for Baked's crave-worthy creations on a regular basis.

Linn's of Cambria

Leave it to California to turn out a hybrid berry that's perfectly primed for pie-making. Linn's uses the olallieberry, a cross between a raspberry and a blackberry, to fill a juicy purple pie that Marc Summers just couldn't stop scooping on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. "Like floating on a cloud," the first forkful of this unusual wedge delivers familiar raspberry tang inside a flaky double crust. The secret behind the exceptional crust is good old-fashioned lard, which yields a crisp yet tender texture that melts when it hits your tongue. Plump olallieberries are tumbled with sugar and a pinch of salt to create the sweet-tart filling that's so good Marc was "tempted to lick the plate" clean. Splurge further with a dip of ice cream on the side and you'll have olallieberries on the brain all the way home.

The Apple Barn & Country Bake Shop

What began as a small roadside stand in 1910 branched into a 300-acre orchard in the Vermont hillside, where The Apple Barn grows high-quality apple varieties and hosts family-friendly fall activities like a corn maze and pumpkin-picking. The bake shop turns out racks upon racks of golden brown fruit pies each day, but for a taste of classic comfort food, Rachael Ray chose the apple pie a la mode when she visited on $40 a Day. After tasting its crisp, faintly tart apples and warming blend of spices, Rachael called this apple pie "a slice of country life on a plate," and a scoop of creamy vanilla topped off the perfect autumn treat.

Dixie Supply Bakery & Cafe

This hidden gem near Charleston's Central Market sports a cozy atmosphere that's distinctly "Southern, from top to bottom," as Guy Fieri observed on Triple D. Known as a breakfast spot that serves the "bounty of the county," like fluffy biscuits and shrimp and grits, Dixie Supply also deals out Southern-style desserts, like Charleston chess pie and bourbon bacon pecan pie. Sweet, salty and over-the-top, the Bacon Bourbon Pecan slice is "as good as it sounds," with meaty strips of bacon folded into the gooey pecan filling and lined along the outer crust. With a tipple of bourbon lending deep caramel flavor, the pie is so satisfying that you'll be tempted to order it for breakfast; since the bakery's motto is "eat dessert first!" they'd surely let it slide.

Paris Coffee Shop

Open for nearly a century, this coffee shop is so renowned for its homemade pies that the recipes are kept under lock and key. Most beloved of all is the coconut meringue, described as "the craziest coconut pie on the planet" and so alluring that Duff woke up at the crack of dawn to snag a slice on Sugar High. The neatly pressed dough is made with a special shortening created just for pie crust, which cradles a dense coconut filling that's chock-full of sweetened coconut flakes. A mountain of meringue hovers over top and is baked to a puffy browned peak, with even more coconut sprinkled on for good measure. With its mix of light meringue and rich coconut custard, this tantalizing pie proved to Duff that it's worth waking up early in Fort Worth.

Brigtsen's Restaurant

Overlooking the banks of the Mississippi River, Brigtsen's boasts some of the best pecan pie you can find in the South. As Southern food writer John T. Edge put it on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, "when all the good pecans go to heaven, this is where they go." Though pecan pie is a common dessert across the region, Brigtsen's pie brings out the depth of local Louisiana pecans by roasting and grinding them so that every bite bursts with true pecan flavor. This simple and honest approach to baking results in a pie that makes you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. You may even ask for a second slice and extra time to linger at the table, since it's "so rich that you'll want a cup of coffee."

The Little Pie Company

Though it originated in the owner's tiny apartment about 20 years ago, this bakery has an empire-size following. While its reputation was built on the Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie, it's the "all-American" Mississippi Mud Pie that keeps chocolate cravings in check around the Big Apple and beyond. A "truly chocoholic pie," the Mississippi Mud Pie was featured on Food Finds for its double-fudge decadence that begins with a chocolate sandwich cookie crust. The fudgy inner custard is made with fine-quality Belgian chocolate and topped with a layer of house-made brownies that are mixed with even more melted chocolate. With shipping available all over the world, it's now possible for chocoholics anywhere to get a taste of this rich American classic at home.

Pie Town Cafe

Considering its dessert-centric location, it makes perfect sense that this cowboy country cafe is known for serving up seriously good pie. Duff raved about the New Mexican Apple Pie on The Best Thing I Ever Ate after taking a long "journey across the high desert" to seek it out. By outward appearances it might look like a straightforward apple pie, but locally grown pine nuts and hot green chiles lurk within the gooey layers and give the filling an unexpected kick. Those New Mexican specialties blend with sugar-spiked Granny Smith apples to create a sweet and spicy slice that's definitely worth the drive to this "middle of nowhere" pie haven.

Pie Moms at The Berry Manor Inn

The Pie Moms are two local celebrities in the world of homemade pie. Having staked their claim as the best pie-bakers in Maine, it came as no surprise when Bobby challenged them to a proper fruit pie Throwdown. With 100 years of combined baking know-how between them, the Pie Moms felt confident they could go dough-to-dough against Bobby. The flour started flying when the lively twosome took on Bobby's peach pie with their famed four-berry creation that stuffed wild Maine blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries into a thick double-crusted dough. With a pie featuring a golden-brown, sugar-crackled upper crust and juicy fruit filling, the Pie Moms produced "a little slice of heaven" that proved their worth as the two grand dames of New England's best pie town.

Omni Parker House

All diets are off at the Omni Parker House, where two famous regional favorites, Parker House Rolls and Boston Cream Pie, were invented. The cream pie alone is worth the trip to Beantown. It's called a pie because it was originally baked in a pie tin, but it's actually two layers of supple sponge cake that are slathered with a silky custard pastry cream and dressed in dark chocolate ganache. Toasted almonds coat the towering sides, making for a sleek slice that sings "like the Boston Pops Orchestra in your mouth," as Beau MacMillan described on The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Fortunately, this elegant specialty is also available to those outside of Boston proper, since Parker House ships miniature versions of the cream pies all across the country.
November
13

World Kindness Day

November
11

Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. However, most Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, reports the Department of Veterans Affairs.

What's more, some Americans don't know why we commemorate our Veterans on Nov.11. It's imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former service members properly.

A Brief History of Veterans Day

Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

For more information and frequently asked questions, visit the VA website.

Stay On Top of Your Veteran Benefits

Military benefits are always changing -- keep up with everything from pay to health care by signing up for a free Military.com membership, which will send all the latest benefits straight to your inbox, as well as give you access to up-to-date pay charts and more.

November
9

Today's mortgage and refinance rates brought to you by themortgagereports.com

Average mortgage rates inched higher last Friday. And conventional loans started out this morning at 2.625% (2.625% APR) for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. 

The blockbuster news this morning was that Pfizer and BioNTech found a 90% efficacy rate in their COVID-19 vaccine study. Markets were already higher on the calling of the presidential race. But these news events together could see a steep rise in mortgage rates today.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 9th, 2020)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.625% 2.625% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.5% 2.5% Unchanged
Conventional 5 year ARM 3% 2.743% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 3% 3.982% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.25% 3.191% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.239% -0.01% 
30 year fixed VA 3% 3.179% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.419% -0.01% 
Your rate might be different. Click here for a personalized rate quote. See our rate assumptions here.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 9th, 2020)


COVID-19 mortgage updates: Mortgage lenders are changing rates and rules due to COVID-19. To see the latest on how coronavirus could impact your home loan, click here.

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

If you can get in before your lender raises its rates too far, you might well wish to do so. Today's likely sharp rise may moderate somewhat in coming days. But these rates may also remain higher than Friday's for some time.

Yes, it true the pandemic is still raging, with the US passing the 10 million mark (and recording more than 100,000 new cases on several recent days) for infections. Worse, deaths are also rising at alarming rates. And even a vaccine with the efficacy of Pfizer's will take many months to be launched and to begin to turn those trends around.

But markets pride themselves on looking several months ahead. And this gives them a reason to ignore the short-term consequences of the pandemic.

Of course, they're right to be in a celebratory mood. And I must change my personal rate lock recommendations accordingly:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • LOCK if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

But, with so much uncertainty at the moment, your instincts could easily turn out to be as good as mine — or better. In particular, there's a risk that I'm overestimating the longevity of today's bounce. So be guided by your gut and your personal tolerance for risk.

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates 

Here's the state of play this morning at about 9:50 a.m. (ET). The data, compared with about the same time last Friday morning, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasurys soared to 0.94% from 0.82%. (Very bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes rocketed higher on 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 happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $40.94 from $37.88 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices tumbled to $1,877 from $1,949 an ounce. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) In general, it's 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  Shot up to 62 from 40 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.

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. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. They have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. Today, they're looking horrible for mortgage rates.

Find and lock a low rate (Nov 9th, 2020)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed's ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can't work miracles all the time. So expect short-term rises as well as falls. And read "For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here's why" if you want to understand this aspect of what's happening
  2. 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
  3. Only "top-tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  4. 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
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are currently appreciably higher following a regulatory change

So there's a lot going on here. 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?

Today

This morning's vaccine news will be widely perceived as a game-changer. And it's likely to send mortgage rates shooting upward.

Even before that, markets were higher on the back of progress in the election. Networks finally called the presidential race for President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday morning. Yes, their decision has no legal force. But it's based on electoral mathematics and seems highly likely (though not 100% certain) to stand.

I was expecting the calling of that race to produce the short-term bump that was materializing earlier. Why only short term? Because I foresaw markets soon having to switch their focus back to the devastating economic effects of the pandemic.

Well, now they can but with some confidence. Yes, scientists warn there are still hurdles for Pfizer to clear.

But this morning's vaccine announcement changes a whole lot. And it has put markets into a euphoric mood that could last weeks or longer — absent any bad news that sobers them up.

Recently

Over the last few months, the overall trend for mortgage rates has clearly been downward. A new all-time low was set early in August and we've gotten close to others since. Indeed, Freddie Mac said that a new low was set during each of the weeks ending Oct. 15 and 22 and Nov. 5. And last Thursday's numbers didn't include the appreciable falls seen over the previous two days.

But not every mortgage expert agrees with Freddie's figures. In particular, they relate to purchase mortgages alone and ignore refinances. And if you average out across both, rates have been consistently higher than the all-time low since that August record. The gap between the two has been widened by a controversial regulatory change.

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 rates forecasts for the last quarter of 2020 (Q4/20) and the first three of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21 and Q3/21).

Note that Fannie's (out on Oct. 19) and the MBA's (Oct. 21) are updated monthly. However, Freddie's are now published quarterly. Its latest was released on Oct. 14.

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages:

Forecaster Q4/20 Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21
Fannie Mae 2.9% 2.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Freddie Mac 3.0% 3.0% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 3.0% 3.1% 3.1% 3.2%

So predictions vary considerably. You pays yer money …

Find your lowest rate today

The pandemic — together with a surge in home sales and mortgage and refinance applications — has created some turmoil in the home loans industry.

And that's making it harder for some borrowers to find the sorts of mortgages they need. So be prepared to shop around even more widely than usual.

But, of course, comparison shopping for a loan is always important. 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.

Show me today's rates (Nov 9th, 2020)

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.

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