Date Archives: December 2021

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December
29

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Preparing to buy tips

1. Start saving early

Here are the main costs to consider when saving for a home:

  • Down payment: Your down payment requirement will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and the lender. Some conventional loans aimed at first-time home buyers with excellent credit allow as little as 3% down. But even a small down payment can be challenging to save. For example, a 3% down payment on a $300,000 home is $9,000. Use a down payment calculator to decide a goal, and then set up automatic transfers from checking to savings to get started.

  • Closing costs: These are the fees and expenses you pay to finalize your mortgage, and they typically range from 2% to 5% of the loan amount. You can ask the seller to pay a portion of your closing costs, and you can save on some expenses, such as home inspections, by shopping around.

  • Move-in expenses: You'll need some cash after the home purchase. Set some money aside for immediate home repairs, upgrades and furnishings.

2. Decide how much home you can afford

Figure out how much you can safely spend on a house before starting to shop. NerdWallet's home affordability calculator can help with setting a price range based on your income, debt, down payment, credit score and where you plan to live.

3. Check and strengthen your credit

Your credit score will determine whether you qualify for a mortgage and affect the interest rate lenders will offer. Take these steps to strengthen your credit score to buy a house:

  • Get free copies of your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — and dispute any errors that could hurt your score.

  • Pay all your bills on time, and keep credit card balances as low as possible.

  • Keep current credit cards open. Closing a card will increase the portion of available credit you use, which can lower your score.

Mortgage selection tips

4. Explore mortgage options

A variety of mortgages are available with varying down payment and eligibility requirements. Here are the main categories:

  • Conventional mortgages are not guaranteed by the government. Some conventional loans targeted at first-time buyers require as little as 3% down.

  • FHA loans are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and allow down payments as low as 3.5%.

  • USDA loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are for rural home buyers and usually require no down payment.

  • VA loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. They are for current and veteran military service members and usually require no down payment.

You also have options when it comes to the mortgage term. Most home buyers opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, which is paid off in 30 years and has an interest rate that stays the same. A 15-year loan typically has a lower interest rate than a 30-year mortgage, but the monthly payments are larger.

5. Research first-time home buyer assistance programs

Many states and some cities and counties offer first-time home buyer programs, which often combine low-interest-rate mortgages with down payment assistance and closing cost assistance. Tax credits are also available through some first-time home buyer programs.

6. Compare mortgage rates and fees

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare the costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees.

Lenders may offer the opportunity to buy discount points, which are fees the borrower pays upfront to lower the interest rate. Buying points can make sense if you have the money on hand and plan to stay in the home for a long time. Use a discount points calculator to decide.

7. Get a preapproval letter

A mortgage preapproval is a lender's offer to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Having a preapproval letter shows home sellers and real estate agents that you're a serious buyer, and can give you an edge over home shoppers who haven't taken this step yet.

Apply for preapproval when you're ready to start home shopping. A lender will pull your credit and review documents to verify your income, assets and debt. Applying for preapproval from more than one lender to shop rates shouldn't hurt your credit score as long as you apply for them within a limited time frame, such as 30 days.

Home shopping tips

8. Choose a real estate agent carefully

A good real estate agent will scour the market for homes that meet your needs and guide you through the negotiation and closing process. Get agent referrals from other recent home buyers. Interview at least a few agents, and request references. When speaking with potential agents, ask about their experience helping first-time home buyers in your market and how they plan to help you find a home.

9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

Weigh the pros and cons of different types of homes, given your lifestyle and budget. A condominium or townhome may be more affordable than a single-family home, but shared walls with neighbors will mean less privacy. Don't forget to budget for homeowners association fees when shopping for condos and townhomes, or houses in planned or gated communities.

Another option to consider is buying a fixer-upper — a single-family home in need of updates or repairs. Fixer-uppers usually sell for less per square foot than move-in ready homes. However, you may need to budget extra for repairs and remodeling. Renovation mortgages finance both the home price and the cost of improvements in one loan.

Think about your long-term needs and whether a starter home or forever home will meet them best. If you plan to start or expand your family, it may make sense to buy a home with extra room to grow.

Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.

10. Stick to your budget

A lender may offer to loan you more than what is comfortably affordable, or you may feel pressure to spend outside your comfort zone to beat another buyer's offer. To avoid financial stress down the road, set a price range based on your budget, and then stick to it.

Look at properties below your price limit to give some wiggle room for bidding in a competitive market.

11. Make the most of open houses

Online 3D home tours have become more popular amid the COVID-19 pandemic. These tours let shoppers virtually walk through a home at any hour and observe details that regular photos don't catch. They don't supply all the information in-person visits do — like how the carpets smell — but they can help you narrow the list of properties to visit.

Open your senses when touring homes in person. Listen for noise, pay attention to any odors and look at the overall condition of the home inside and out. Ask about the type and age of the electrical and plumbing systems and the roof.

" MORE: How 3D home tours work

Home purchasing tips

12. Pay for a home inspection

A home inspection is a thorough assessment of the structure and mechanical systems. Professional inspectors look for potential problems, so you can make an informed decision about buying the property. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Standard inspections don't test for things like radon, mold or pests. Understand what's included in the inspection and what other inspections you might need.

  • Make sure the inspector can get to every part of the house, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.

  • Traditionally the buyer attends the inspection. By following the inspector around you can get a better understanding of the home and ask questions on the spot. If you can't attend the inspection, review the inspector's report carefully and ask about anything that's unclear.

13. Negotiate with the seller

You may be able to save money by asking the seller to pay for repairs in advance or lower the price to cover the cost of repairs you'll have to make later. You may also ask the seller to pay some of the closing costs. But keep in mind that lenders may limit the portion of closing costs the seller can pay.

Your negotiating power will depend on the local market. It's tougher to drive a hard bargain when there are more buyers than homes for sale. Work with your real estate agent to understand the local market and strategize accordingly.

14. Buy adequate home insurance

Your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance before closing the deal. Home insurance covers the cost to repair or replace your home and belongings if they're damaged by an incident covered in the policy. It also provides liability insurance if you're held responsible for an injury or accident. Buy enough home insurance to cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it's destroyed.

December
22

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose yesterday. And they went higher than I was expecting. Still, they remain well below the high for the last 30 days.

First thing this morning, mortgage rates today looked likely to hold steady or just inch either side of the neutral line. But that might change as the day progresses.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 22nd, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.345% 3.368% +0.05% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.497% 2.531% +0.01% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.102% 3.134% -0.05% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.611% 2.681% +0.01% 
30 year fixed FHA 3.374% 4.14% +0.05% 
15 year fixed FHA 2.593% 3.24% +0.01% 
5/1 ARM FHA 2.229% 3.124% +0.01% 
30 year fixed VA 2.96% 3.149% -0.22% 
15 year fixed VA 2.934% 3.283% +0.1% 
5/1 ARM VA 2.5% 2.52% +0.01% 
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?

Markets seem to be largely shrugging off the economic threats posed by the new Omicron variant of COVID–19. But for how long can they keep that up?

I'm guessing it won't be long. So, for now, my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

  • FLOAT if closing in 7 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 15 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT 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 inched down to 1.46% from 1.47%. (Good 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 $71.18 from $70.42 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices edged lower to $1,793 from $1,795 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 – increased to 33 from 30 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 be unchanged or barely changed. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 22nd, 2021)

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. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed

So a lot is 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?

In spite of mortgage rates rising over the last couple of days, I'm still guessing that they'll fall again fairly soon. Why?

Well, because the Omicron variant seems to be highly likely to cause some economic damage. And markets can't ignore that for long.

Part of the reason for yesterday's rise in mortgage rates might have been President Joe Biden's assurances that day that there were no plans for lockdowns or harsh restrictions of the sorts we saw earlier in the pandemic. However, as The New York Times reported:

Omicron uncertainty

Of course, it's essential to remember that nobody's yet sure just how medically damaging Omicron's going to be. We know that it spreads much more quickly than earlier variants. But we won't know for days or weeks just how resistant it is to vaccines and past infections, nor how severe typical cases might be.

But, if we look to Europe (which is weeks ahead of us in terms of Omicron infections) for clues, the signs aren't great. Take France, for example. There, daily infections have soared over the last month and Covid–related deaths have doubled, according to Reuters.

And yet France has very high vaccination rates: 89.2% of the population age 12 and over had had two doses as of yesterday, including 34.4% who had also had booster shots, according to French government data. The equivalent figures for the United States are 62% and 18%.

Many European governments are being forced to impose stricter anti–coronavirus measures. And those inevitably have negative economic consequences.

Do markets believe that America's Omicron experience will be different from Europe's? Or are they choosing to wait for a new wave of COVID–19 to hit us before responding to it?

Either way, I suspect that they'll soon be faced with reality. And, if I'm right, mortgage rates will begin falling again.

For more background, read Saturday's weekend edition of this daily report.

Recently

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 last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 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 September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.

Freddie's Dec. 16 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.12% (with 0.6 fees and points), slightly up from the previous week's 3.10%.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts – updated today

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 remaining, current quarter of 2021 (Q4/21) and the first three quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, and Q3/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Dec. 20 and the MBA's on Dec. 21.

Freddie's were released on Oct. 15. It now updates its forecasts only quarterly. So we may not get another from it until January. And its figures are already looking stale.

Forecaster Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22
Fannie Mae 3.1% 3.1%  3.2% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.2% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 3.1% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

However, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts maybe even more speculative than usual.

And none of these forecasters had any idea that Omicron might entirely change the models on which they're based.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked 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.

Show me today's rates (Dec 22nd, 2021)

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.

December
20

Looking for a fun way to build some holiday cheer with your family? Try making one or all of these holiday crafts at home.

Nothing gets our real estate agents in the holiday spirit quite like DIY holiday crafts. Holiday crafting is not only a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family, but it also is a chance to create some beautiful holiday decor that you can use to liven up your home for the holiday season. If you're looking for some creative ideas before heading out to the craft store, here are our four most popular DIY holiday craft ideas:

Click Here to Read More...

December
15

International Tea Day 2021: Date, history, and significance

International Tea Day is observed on December 15 in many countries including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Uganda, India, and Tanzania. Tea is an aromatic beverage that has a great demand in the world market.

International Tea Day 2021: History

The first ITD was held in New Delhi in India in 2005. However, in 2015, the Indian government proposed to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation to expand International Tea Day across the world.

The reason for the UN celebrating May 21 as International Tea Day is that the season of tea production begins in May in most of the tea-producing countries.

About Tea:

The growing of tea requires intensive care and effort. Thus, to draw the attention of the government and public about the problems besetting tea production and how tea plantations, small tea growers, and consumers are being affected by the global tea trade, every year International Tea Day is observed.

According to the UN, tea has medicinal value and has the potential of bringing health benefits to people.

Variations of chai that you should try!

  • Kashmiri Kahwa
  • Ginger Tea
  • Tulsi Tea
  • Sulaimani Tea
  • Ronga Saah
  • Masala Tea
  • Lemongrass Tea
  • Cardamom Tea
  • Lembu Chai
  • Green Tea
  • Gur Gur Chai/Butter
December
13

National Hot Cocoa Day is Dec. 13, 2017

If you live in a climate where winter winds tend to send a chill to your bones and put goosebumps on your arms and legs, then you know just the thing that helps warm you up after you've been out in the cold. It's hot cocoa! National Hot Cocoa day is right around the corner on Dec. 13, 2017.

Did you know there are many health benefits that are associated with cocoa? It's true! According to The Weather Channel's "5 Ways Hot Cocoa is Good for Your Health," cocoa is nutritious, contains antioxidants, promotes heart health, aids in memory, and can make you happy. Let's take a closer look:

If you love hot coca but want to take it to another level, don't be afraid to add something new to your mug to liven things up. If you have kids, it's likely they will love being able to pick and choose some of these ideas for jazzing up your hot chocolate, suggested from Start Cooking:

  • Caramel
  • Ice cream
  • Cinnamon extract (nutmeg or vanilla extract, too)
  • Orange zest
  • Espresso or coffee
  • Peppermint stick
  • Dark or white chocolate shavings
  • Peanut butter
  • Habanero pepper or hot sauce
  • Hot cherries
  • Coconut milk
  • Maple syrup

Dec. 13 will be here soon enough and you'll want to be sure you're ready. So grab your favorite blanket, cuddle in to watch a movie, find that festive mug and pour yourself a nice, big cup of hot cocoa.

To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to Michigan State University Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports: "Preparing young children to success" and "Preparing the future generation for success." Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

December
10

Why is Hanukkah so early this year?

Hanukkah is an eight-day "festival of lights" that takes place during the winter, oftentimes at or around the same time as Christmas.

The holiday is also known as the Jewish Festival of Rededication and is often celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, gifts, traditional foods, and games.

But the date of Hanukkah varies every year based on the Gregorian calendar.

Here is why that tends to happen every year, and why Hanukkah is so early in 2021.

The Hebrew calendar matches up with the lunar cycle, so the dates of Jewish holidays on the Gregorian calendar can change from year to year.

This means Hanukkah can start as early as late November and can even fall as late as late December, according to the Farmer's Almanac.

Hanukkah, which is defined as "dedication" in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar.

December
6

Mortgage and refinance rates today, Dec. 6, 2021

Today's mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates just inched lower last Friday. And they ended last week very slightly lower than they started it. But, amid unusual volatility, it was a close-run thing.

So far this morning, it's looking as if mortgage rates today might rise. But it's especially common now for markets to change direction as the hours' pass.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 6th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.292% 3.312% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.529% 2.558% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.151% 3.185% +0.03% 
Conventional 10 years fixed 2.64% 2.702% +0.02% 
30 year fixed FHA 3.307% 4.072% Unchanged
15 year fixed FHA 2.585% 3.229% Unchanged
5/1 ARM FHA 2.177% 3.098% +0.01% 
30 year fixed VA 3.207% 3.401% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 3.027% 3.371% +0.03% 
5/1 ARM VA 2.559% 2.454% +0.01% 

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

My advice for the last week has been to float your rate. And average mortgage rates have dropped over that time. But only very slightly.

For the future, everything depends on how economically damaging the Omicron variant of COVID-19 turns out to be. (More on that below.) And that's far from clear. So, amid so much uncertainty, the financially conservative might prefer to lock their rates today. Others may prefer to gamble on lower rates turning up by continuing to float.

I may well have to change my personal rate lock recommendations soon. But, for now, those remain:

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

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 last Friday, were:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.38% from 1.45%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mostly 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 fell to $67.71 from $68.98 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity 
  • Gold prices inched up to $1,778 from $1,774 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 — fell 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
Note

Why am I saying mortgage rates might rise today when so many of those indicators are showing "good" movements? Because most of those movements happened on Friday. And many markets' directions of travel this morning are less friendly.

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 look likely to rise modestly. But be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Dec 6th, 2021)

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. And a recent regulatory change has narrowed a gap that previously existed

So a lot is 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

An epic struggle is underway behind the scenes in key markets.

On the one side, the economic dangers created by the new Omicron variant are trying to pull mortgage rates lower. On the other, warm inflation and hints from the Federal Reserve that it's likely to accelerate its tightening of its monetary policy are trying to push those rates higher.

The Fed has been keeping mortgage rates artificially low for about 20 months now. And it's already said that it plans to "taper" (slowly withdraw) that support. But now it's hinting that it may do so more quickly.

That would also likely see it hike its own interest rates sooner than expected (earlier in 2022), which would have a knock-on effect on all variable-rate loans, including credit card balances. Of course, that also includes rates on existing adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) that are past their fixed-rate introductory period.

In theory, the Fed plays no part in determining rates for new mortgages. But, in practice, its hiking of its own rates is likely to add more upward pressure on those mortgage rates.

And the winner is …

Nobody yet has a clue which side will win this epic struggle. If Omicron hadn't reared its ugly head, mortgage rates would almost certainly have continued to rise in response to inflation, Fed actions and other pressures. And that may still turn out to be the case.

But it all depends on how economically damaging Omicron turns out to be. And we can't begin to guess that until public health researchers have had a chance to definitively answer three questions about the variant:

  1. How infectious is it? — So far, that's looking bad. Yesterday, The Guardian reported, "Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, estimates that Omicron can infect three to six times as many people as Delta, over the same time period"
  2. Will Omicron produce better or worse health outcomes than Delta for those who become infected? — The early signs are good. But its initial spread has mostly been among young, healthy people. And we won't know for sure until it reaches the general population
  3. Are vaccines and past infections going to provide adequate protections? — Nobody knows. Many experts think that existing vaccines will help reduce hospitalizations and deaths. But we're weeks away from getting enough data to be sure

You've spotted the theme: We're just going to have to wait and see.

What this means for mortgage rates

The principle couldn't be more straightforward. Mortgage rates tend to rise when the economy's doing well. And fall when it's in trouble.

Right now, the economy's still recovering strongly. But the investors who largely determine mortgage rates are trying to peer into the future. And they — like the rest of us — can't see the ends of their noses.

And, until their view becomes clearer, they're likely to respond (sometimes sharply) to passing news stories, government statements and medical research bulletins. So expect lots of volatility. But little sense of direction.

For more background, read Saturday's weekend edition of this daily report.

Recently

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 last year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 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 September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.

Freddie's Dec. 2 report puts that weekly average for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at 3.11% (with 0.6 fees and points), slightly up from the previous week.

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 remaining, current quarter of 2021 (Q4/21) and the first three quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22 and Q3/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Nov. 18 and the MBA's on Nov. 22.

Freddie's were released on Oct. 15. It now updates its forecasts only quarterly. So we may not get another from it until January.

Forecaster Q4/21 Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22
Fannie Mae 3.1% 3.2%  3.3% 3.3%
Freddie Mac 3.2% 3.4%  3.5% 3.6%
MBA 3.1% 3.3%  3.5% 3.7%

However, given so many unknowables, the whole current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual.

And none of these forecasters had any idea that Omicron might entirely change the models on which they're based.

Find your lowest rate today

Some lenders have been spooked 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.

Show me today's rates (Dec 6th, 2021)

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.

December
6

It may be chilly in Holland, but that doesn't mean you should stay cooped up indoors. Here are fun local attractions to check out this winter.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you live in the Western Michigan area. There are so many wonderful seasonal attractions and events around beautiful downtown Holland, so it's not hard to get into the holiday spirit. A visit to Holland is certain to brighten your holidays.

Our real estate agents are busy planning their pre-holiday weekends and here are some top recommendations for local activities and attractions:

Click Here to Read More...

December
1

NATIONAL MUTT DAY

Let's throw this day to the dogs! Not just any dog, though. Today, we toast to the mixed breeds of the world, so raise your water bowls high … because these ones are for the mutts! There are no ifs, and, or mutts about it — December 2 is National Mutt Day, and we're here to celebrate. In fact, we love this day so much, we celebrate it twice a year. The next National Mutt Day is July 31!

NATIONAL MUTT DAY TIMELINE

1866
ASPC is established

The non-profit organization 'The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is founded to prevent cruelty to animals.

1968
The Snickering Hound

Hanna-Barbera Productions create the fictional dog Muttley, who is a sidekick to cartoon villain Dick Dastardly.

2005
National Mutt Day is born.

Animal welfare advocate Colleen Paige started this holiday to shine a light on the problem of abandoning mixed breed dogs.

July 31, 2005
The More the Mutt-rier

National Mutt Day is also celebrated on July 31 annually.

NATIONAL MUTT DAY SOCIAL MEDIA BUZZ

National Mutt Day 2017
National Mutt Day 2018

NATIONAL MUTT DAY ACTIVITIES

  1. Volunteer at your local shelter

    Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers, and you'd make a great one! Check-in with your local rescue to see how you can get involved.

  2. Offer to dog-sit for a friend

    Chances are, you've got plenty of mutts in your life. While every dog owner loves their pet, they'd probably still appreciate a day off.

    3. Adopt a mutt

    The ultimate way to celebrate this holiday! If you've been thinking about getting a dog, open up your heart to a mutt and you won't regret it.

    WHY DO WE LOVE NATIONAL MUTT DAY

    1. It encourages the adoption of mixed-breed dogs

      This is what National Mutt Day's all about! While all dogs at shelters need adopting, purebred dogs tend to have much better luck, so mutts often end up being left out to dry.

    2. They've got the best temperaments

      Most purebreds were bred for specific traits, so they're likely to have a more extreme personality. Mutts, on the other hand, have a blend of traits from different sources, which often leads to a more mellow mood. In fact, purebred dogs are more likely than mutts to have genetic disorders, including cataracts and hypothyroidism.3. They're all so different

    1. With all the dog breed combinations out there, there are nearly an infinite amount of possibilities. Just think about it this way: 4-digit combination locks have ten thousand combinations, and there are over 300 breeds of dogs. You can [try to] do the math.

    NATIONAL MUTT DAY DATES

    Year Date Day
    2021 December 2 Thursday
    2022 December 2 Friday
    2023 December 2 Saturday
    2024 December 2 Monday
    2025 December 2 Tuesday

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