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August
1

National Girlfriend Day

Ladies, it's time for some real talk. Today is National Girlfriend Day, an annual event that rolls around every August 1. Unlike National Boyfriend Day, this day isn't for boyfriends to appreciate their girlfriends (let's be honest, that should happen every day), it's about women supporting women!

Romantic partners will come and go. Jobs are won and lost. But no matter what happens, your girls will be there in a crunch.  It's a time to honor your "ride or die" crew of homegirls! So, why do we love our girlfriends so much? Because they're like sisters but without any of the growing-up baggage. Plus, when times are tough, your girls will let you vent and when you're done; they will offer up the support you need to get through.

Spa days, weekend retreats, pajama parties complete with wine and nachos are even better when your girlfriends join in the fun.  This year on National Girlfriend Day 2021, spend some delicious time gossiping about lovers past, present and future. Discuss your hopes and dreams in a really safe space, the circle of sisterhood.

HISTORY OF NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY

It's not known for certain who created National Girlfriend Day on August 1 but the strongest claim seems to stem from Mistress Susan who runs a luxury website. She says that she created and celebrated the date in 2004 as a chance for gal pals to express gratitude to each other.

The history of female friendships and gal pals is of course much longer than the day itself. Girls have been friends for so long that there is no way we can trace back to the first-ever female friends, so instead, we'll mention some of the more notable gal pals from recent times.

The Edinburgh Seven were a group of female friends who fought to become the first women to go to medical school in the UK in the 1860s. Despite studying medicine at Edinburgh University they were barred from graduating and becoming doctors. Their determination put women's rights on the national agenda and led to laws in 1876 that allowed women to study medicine at university. The Edinburgh Seven had paved for the way for the female doctors of the future.

Around the same time as this, Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were forming a friendship that would become revolutionary. The two were the founders of the women's rights movement in the United States and were the trailblazers that pushed for white women's suffrage. The two initially met in 1851 and it was in 1869 that they formed the National Woman Suffrage Association.

On a more sporty note, we raise a special mention for The Rockford Peaches, the founding members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940s. Their achievements were a huge stride forward for female athletes in the U.S.

One of our favorite stories of female friendship involves Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe, with Fitzgerald attributing her big break to Monroe? The singer tried to book a gig at the Mocambo in Hollywood in 1955 but the manager turned her away because she didn't have enough "sex appeal." Monroe called the manager and said that she would sit front row every night if Fitzgerald got the job, which would pull in the press and crowds that the manager craved. Fitzgerald would say later. "After that I never had to play a small jazz club again."

More recently Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert showed that even the fiercest of rivals can be best friends. The two did battle in an incredible 61 tennis tournament finals during the 1970s and 1980s but were still the best of friends off the court and would often travel to tournaments together and hang out between matches.

Gal pals are always there for each other and have a history of fighting against the tide to achieve great things together. Make sure you take some time out on National Girlfriend Day 2021 to let your girlfriends know how much you appreciate them.

Here are some other female-orientated holidays to observe and celebrate.

NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY TRADITIONS

As this day is all about hanging out with your girlfriends the main tradition is to spend some quality time with your friends. People tend to spend National Girlfriend Day having fun with their girlfriends in and doing activities that they have previously bonded on together.

So, whether it is watching a movie, spending the night partying, going shopping, or eating out at a nice restaurant, the traditions of National Girlfriend Day are really the traditions that built that friendship in the first place.

NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY BY NUMBERS

6 – The number of best friends the average woman has in her lifetime.
16 years – The lifespan of the average female friendship
1 in 10 – Women admit to having more fun with their bff than with their partner.
47% – Women wish they could spend more time with their best friend.
1 in 4 – Women think their best friend knows them better than their partner.
67% – More time women spend improving romantic relationships compared to friendships.
23 years – the average friendship length for women over 55.
9 – The number of close friends the average American has
2% – The number of people who claim to have no close friends.
73% – The number of Americans satisfied with their friendships

HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL GIRLFRIEND DAY 2021

  1. Organize a paint night with your girls

    Painting and drinking? Sign me up! Going to a paint nite is a sweet idea for a night out with your girls—you even get a souvenir to remember it. For those who are not so artistically-inclined, the staff gives easy-to-understand instructions for the painting of the night. If yours still comes out bad.... just blame the alcohol.

  2. Instagram or it didn't happen

    Nothing says "I love you" than a selfie with the favorite females in your life. Why can't #WCW be every day?

  3. Everyone loves a spa day

    Invite the girls over for a spa night! Make your own pedicures, facials, the works. Your girlfriends will thank you for the pamper-filled day.

March
28

The 10 Best Sports Bars in Michigan!

Sports bars are the perfect place to unwind after a long week and watch the big game with friends. Michigan's best sports bars provide an atmosphere comparable to that of a live event. So if you're looking for a great spot to snack on some wings, drink with friends, and watch your team go for the win, check out our favorite sports bars in Michigan! 

1. Jamboozies Sports Bar and Grill, Sterling Heights, MI

Featuring a wide array of food and drink—pretzel pizza with the beer cheese dip comes up frequently—and a 107-inch television backed up by 13 smaller screens to show all the gaming, Jamboozies delivers on the watching and eating. It will even round out the experience with trivia nights, karaoke, and theme events just to round it out.

2. Andrews on the Corner, Detroit, MI

It's not just the "million 60-inch plasmas" that get people coming in here-though there's no shortage of screens showing games. It's the frequent appearance of actual sports figures from broadcasters to coaches, and even former players, that pop in for a bite and a relaxing evening of sport.

3. Monelli's Italian Grill and Sports Bar, Portage and Wyoming, MI

The watchword of the day at Monelli's Italian Grill and Sports Bar is "versatility." Whether at the Portage or Wyoming location, Monelli's is not just a sports bar with plenty of screens—including a nice projector at the Portage location—but it's also a fully functional Italian restaurant. Pizza, pasta, burgers...all the best in sports bar and Italian food are right here to go with your sports viewing. Throw in a substantial array of live tap beers—including beer flights—and you'll have an evening on your hands.

4. Steel Cat Bar, Grand Rapids, MI

Regarded as one of the best sports bars in Grand Rapids, the Steel Cat Bar focuses on its delivery. Featuring the first Frost Rail system Michigan has ever seen—and at last report, the only such item—a cold drink is top priority for the Steel Cat. It also boasts a Chillrite 32 tap system that serves up draft beer at exactly 32 degrees. That's amazing enough—any colder and it'd be solid—but throw in a wide array of draft options and plenty of live events and Steel Cat will deliver in a big way.

5. Big-E Bar and Grill, Holland, MI

Head to Holland for the Big-E, billed as the "only true sports grill" in downtown Holland. Featuring a staggering array of televisions for game watching, a few playable games—including a claw game—for good measure, and a dizzying array of food choices, it's all about big at Big-E. Throw in such spectacles as over 80 taps of beer and a "video wall" measuring nine feet in height and Big-E will deliver big...in a big way.

6. Booyah's Bar and Grill, Muskegon, MI

Muskegon sports fans have a friend in Booyah's, a sports bar that focuses on the food first. Featuring an array of dishes from burgers and wings to ribs and perch, Booyah's is out to fill up its sports fans just as much as—potentially even more than—entertain them. Naturally, the array of flat screens showing the games off won't disappoint sports buffs, but the sheer variety of dishes on hand here will make Booyah's the match of most any restaurant around.

7. Nuthouse Sports Grill, Lansing, MI

Michigan's capital, Lansing, plays host to Nuthouse Sports Grill, a sports bar that pushes value. Featuring regular daily specials—Tuesday, for example, features dollar-off drafts and half-off wings—alongside the normal lineup of exciting food and beverage options, the Nuthouse seeks to deliver a value that few can match. From pizza to grinders to even salads, there will almost certainly be something new at the Nuthouse every time you go in.

8. State Street Grille, Traverse City, MI

Leave it to Traverse City to offer up a top-notch sports bar in the State Street Grille. It's a local haven in many senses, offering an array of beers including plenty of Bells, New Holland and Petoskey as well as spirits from the Valentine Distillery and Traverse City Distillery. You'll also be able to get in on what amounts to the Monte Cristo pickle, a dill pickle wrapped in ham and Swiss cheese, then deep fried in a wonton shell. After that, the sports will almost be an afterthought.

9. Merl's Tavern, Saginaw, MI

One of the most recent additions to the sports bar space in Michigan, Carrolton Township's Merl's Tavern offers an array of choices in food and drink as well as special events. For Cinco de Mayo, Merl's brought out the Cinco de Merl combo dinner featuring beans and rice and a taco, along with $3 margaritas. Add in Team Trivia functions—always fun—and signature drink the Merlixer, which is a combination of wine and vodka along with a suite of fruit juices, and Merl's Tavern will be a great destination.

10. The 906 Sports Bar and Grill, Marquette, MI

Not even the Upper Peninsula has escaped the sports bar fondness the rest of Michigan enjoys, and in Marquette lies one of Michigan's best. The 906 Sports Bar and Grill offers plenty of food and drink options, including a full bar. Throw in pool tables and keno for those who want to play rather than watch, and 13 separate televisions for those who prefer watching, and the whole waterfront is covered. Add in a special "country night" every Friday with live performances, and the 906 will deliver a top-notch value for area residents. Just to round it out, the 906 even boasts a view of the Ore Dock, one of the greatest sights in Marquette.

March
23

Creative strategies to buy a house in 2022

Want to become a homeowner in 2022?

The 2022 housing market looks a lot like 2021: bidding wars abound, houses are getting snatched up in record time, and demand still outstrips supply.

How can home buyers succeed despite the obstacles?

Get creative, say the experts.

Following the status quo when home shopping and making an offer just won't cut it in today's market.

Read on for pro tips that can help you score a deal, outmaneuver your rivals, and achieve your homeownership dreams.

Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

What to know about the 2022 housing market

Sure, the market is tough. That's no secret. But homes sold at a record pace in 2021 – which means millions of buyers were successful in their quest.

So how did they do it? What tactics can you use to score a home when competing against many other buyers?

"If you want to own a home, and believe that homeownership is a strong financial move for you, then you must be prepared to fight for the available inventory," says Glenn Pizzolorusso, a licensed associate real estate broker with Compass in Connecticut. "Winning a multiple offer situation takes creativity today."

Jay Zigmont, a certified financial planner with Live, Learn, Plan, based in Mississippi, echoes those thoughts.

"Rising house prices require buyers to be smarter about what, where, and when they buy a home. This may require, for example, looking at smaller homes and different locations or buying with a partner to keep the house affordable," says Zigmont.

But being inventive and resourceful doesn't mean you have to go it alone.

Work closely with a trusted real estate agent, or at least a real estate attorney, who can help you devise the right approaches that can help you find and claim the right home. Once you have strong representation lined up, explore each of the following strategies.

Verify your home buying eligibility. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

Creative ways to save for the down payment and closing costs

You don't need 20% down to buy a home. In fact, many buyers can get into a home with as little as 3% or even zero down.

But saving up for a bigger down payment can help your chances of scoring a home in today's competitive market. Remember that the more money you put down, the stronger your offer appears to a seller and the more motivated they will be to accept.

If you're having trouble coming up with funds for your down payment and closing costs – or want to boost the savings your already have – try these tips:

Tighten your financial belt

The ability to reduce your spending depends on your current income and financial situation, of course.

But, where possible, experts recommend that you stop eating out, cancel unnecessary subscriptions, shop around for cheaper insurance, choose a less expensive grocery store, and cut out unnecessary spending as much as you can.

These might feel like sacrifices in the short term, but even small changes can make a big difference in your long–term homeownership goals.

Look into a down payment assistance program

There are thousands of down payment assistance (DPA) programs available nationwide and locally that offer grants, loans, and credits to qualified home buyers. To help find DPA programs, check out these links:

Ask for help from loved ones

Most mortgage loan programs allow you to cover part or all of your down payment using gifted money from a loved one. Note that the donor will need to write a gift letter to the lender verifying that the funds are a gift, not a loan that needs to be repaid.

Use a low– or no–money–down loan

If your primary goal is to buy a home sooner rather than later, your best bet might be a low–down–payment mortgage. By lowering the down payment bar you can often buy much earlier than if you waited to save 20% down.

Conforming mortgages – the most common type of home loan – have flexible down payment requirements: You could put 3%, 5%, 10%, or 15% down if you don't have the full twenty.

FHA loans are another great option with just 3.5% down. And qualified buyers should look into the government–backed VA and USDA loan programs, which allow 0% down.

Compare home loan options. Start here (Mar 23rd, 2022)

Creative ways to find an affordable home

"Locating an affordable property in an area you prefer is the single most important box on the list to check," says Pizzolorusso. "My advice? Find the worst house on the best street and take your time improving it into your own oasis."

Evan Rosenblum, a Realtor with JMG Realty in Los Angeles, has simple advice.

"Look for homes that you can make perfect, not homes that are perfect right now that everyone else is fighting for," he says.

Keep in mind that the prices of homes tend to decrease the further you get from a city center or other similar location. So it doesn't hurt to broaden your horizons and widen your map.

"Look for homes that are technically further away but are a short commute or near public transportation," Zigmont suggests. "You might find considerable savings by adding a bit more to your commute."

If you work from home, you can get more creative about the location.

"Living out in a country area further from a city may save you considerably, while you can still visit the city for fun occasions. Just make sure the rural location you choose has sufficient infrastructure, resources, and amenities, including broadband access," notes Zigmont.

Creative ways to get the seller to accept your offer

Here's where you'll need to be extra clever and have the right timing.

"Choose a real estate agent or broker who understands game theory and valuation comparables," says Nik Shah, CEO of San Francisco–based Home.LLC. "A quality real estate agent can be the difference between closing the deal or losing it."

"Speed and simplicity will help you with your offer. In this market, you can't wait weeks or even days to put in an offer on something you love," Zigmont cautions. "Know your math going in, and then you can make informed decisions when you find the right house."

For best results, consider these suggestions:

  • Focus only on the homes you truly want to purchase. "Don't put in offers on every home just because you haven't gotten accepted," says Rosenblum. "Tighten up your criteria and be hyper–focused on your search"
  • Use an escalation clause. This clause says that you will offer "X" amount but beat any higher offers that are presented by the amount you specify. "This will allow you to always try and present the highest offer," Rosenblum explains. "Just be sure to put a cap on your escalation to the max price you are willing to pay for the property"
  • Consider waiving key contingencies. "In a competitive market, you might want to rethink how many contingencies you include. Removing your financing contingency, appraisal contingency, and/or inspection contingency could give you a better shot at winning the offer," Shah suggests
  • Request an appraisal waiver from your lender. "If you are putting at least 20% down, see if your lender can confirm that the property will qualify for an appraisal waiver; therefore, you can waive your appraisal contingency," says Rosenblum
  • Ask your lender about tightening your terms. "Can you shorten the length of the escrow period? Can you get the loan pre–underwritten so that you can reduce the timeline for or remove your financing contingency completely?" Rosenblum asks
  • Ask your agent to reach out to the listing agent and establish a stronger relationship. "By developing a rapport, your agent can help you put a face to the name on the offer," recommends Rosenblum
  • Write a love letter to the seller. Explain who you are and why you love this home
  • Explore an all-cash offer. Companies like Ribbon, Knock, and FlyHomes can lend you the money to make an all–cash offer, which should convince the seller to choose you

Creative alternatives in case you can't find a home you want

Still no luck finding the right house or cinching a deal? Drastic times call for even more creative measures.

Buy a fixer–upper on the cheap

"Find a fixer–upper. You will be able to purchase at below–market prices and improve to above–market prices," says Pizzolorusso. "If you can take an outdated home and bring it into the modern day, you will come out far ahead when it's time to sell."

To make this strategy easier, there are special loan programs that let you finance the home purchase and repairs with a single mortgage. If you're considering the fixer–upper route, look into:

Build your home instead of buying

Alternatively, explore hunting for a parcel of land or infill site and constructing a new home on it.

The benefit here is that no one else will be bidding against you on your new home. And you can have it built to your exact specifications.

However, "the problem with this tactic is that building prices are still way too high to make this a wise choice in most markets. You don't want to find yourself upside down on your mortgage upon completion," Pizzolorusso continues.

Split the cost of buying

Or, get a partner to come in on the deal with you as a co-borrower or co-signer on the loan, which can come in handy if you're having trouble qualifying for a mortgage loan or you're worried about affording the costs of homeownership.

"Buying a house with a friend or other person you are not married to is an option, but you need to make sure you have a good lawyer to help on the paperwork," says Zigmont.

Start your home buying journey

Are you ready to get serious about buying a home in 2022?

If so, then it's time to connect with a mortgage lender and get preapproved.

Every prospective home buyer needs a preapproval to learn how much they can afford, which types of mortgage they qualify for, and how expensive their payments will be. Not to mention, your preapproval letter gives you the clout to make a serious offer on a home you love.

March
7

International Women's Day 2022 Theme

The theme of 2022 International Women's Day is "gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow".

"Advancing gender equality in the context of the climate crisis and disaster risk reduction is one of the greatest global challenges of the 21st century. Women are increasingly being recognized as more vulnerable to climate change impacts than men, as they constitute the majority of the world's poor and are more dependent on the natural resources that climate change threatens the most. At the same time, women and girls are effective and powerful leaders and change-makers for climate adaptation and mitigation…This International Women's Day, let's claim "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow"," reads a statement by the United Nations.

International Women's Day Significance

International Women's Day is celebrated to recognise the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.

Organisations like colleges and institutions across the world celebrate International Women's Day by holding public speeches, rallies, exhibitions, workshops and seminars on themes and concepts, debates, quiz competitions, and lectures.

March
2

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates tumbled yesterday. And that wiped out more than two weeks of rises. But, of course, those rates are still significantly higher than they were at the start of the year – or the month.

And there may be more good news today. Because markets are signaling that mortgage rates today might fall again.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 2nd, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.954% 3.977% -0.14% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 3.357% 3.393% -0.14% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.836% 3.872% -0.13% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 3.27% 3.339% -0.15% 
30 year fixed FHA 4.147% 4.91% -0.11% 
15 year fixed FHA 3.597% 4.219% -0.15% 
30 year fixed VA 4.058% 4.264% -0.12% 
15 year fixed VA 3.63% 3.98% +0.27% 
5/1 ARM VA 4.75% 3.9% -0.03% 
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?

On the day I wrote, "It's the Fed, stupid!" markets took me down. True, I predicted a fall yesterday. But I wasn't expecting such a significant one.

As it turns out, the Federal Reserve was last Friday's focus. And the cumulative economic effect of the international community's sanctions on Russia dominated market movements yesterday. And still is this morning.

But for how long will that last? I shouldn't be surprised if it were to end soon.

Read on to discover why I think investors might soon switch their gaze back to their real obsessions, which are inflation and the Federal Reserve's plans to counter it. If and when that switch happens, mortgage rates are likely to rise again.

Of course, I wouldn't lock a mortgage rate on a day, such as today, when those rates look likely to fall. But, given that I think that might turn out to be a brief period, my personal rate lock recommendations overall remain:

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

Market data affecting today's mortgage rates

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

  • The yield on 10-year Treasury notes tumbled to 1.77% from 1.87%. (Very good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes fell, though not as sharply as yesterday, soon after opening. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices soared to $101.52 from $94.96 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 up to $1,924 from $1,917 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 – inched down to 22 from 23 out of 100. (Neutral for mortgage rates.) "Greedy" investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while "fearful" investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

*A change of less than $20 on gold prices or 40 cents on oil ones is a fraction of 1%. So we only count meaningful differences as good or bad for mortgage rates.

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve's interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that's no longer the case. We still make daily calls. And are usually right. But our record for accuracy won't achieve its former high levels until things settle down.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong or weak to rely on them. But, with that caveat, mortgage rates today might fall. However, be aware that "intraday swings" (when rates change direction during the day) are a common feature right now.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Mar 2nd, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top–tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Russia

So why do I think markets might soon pay less attention to Russia's economic woes? Because, despite its military power, the country simply isn't important enough to the global economy.

Russia is "basically a big gas station," in the words of one Harvard economist. And it does supply a chunk of Europe's oil and natural gas. However, with spring imminent, demand for those will fall sharply soon. In the meantime, existing reserves should tide Europe over. And it has several months to find alternative sources.

But Russia's hardly an economic superpower at the best of times. Indeed, as economist Paul Krugman noted in The New York Times (paywall) yesterday, "Britain and France are medium–size powers; Russia's gross domestic product is only a bit more than half as large as either's."

"It's still the Fed, stupid!"

You can see why Russia grabbed markets' attention yesterday and continues to do so today. It's created the biggest geopolitical event in decades by invading a sovereign European nation. And the international community's sanctions are likely to cause lasting damage to Russia's economy.

But let me remind you of the two Financial Times headlines from Monday I quoted yesterday:

  1. Ukraine war unlikely to deflect Fed from path of interest rate rises – Officials are convinced of the need to tighten policy even as Russia's invasion clouds the economic outlook
  2. Investors brace for flood of mortgage bonds when Fed trims balance sheet – US central bank is set to unwind massive pandemic–era stimulus measures

For American mortgage rates, those are ultimately likely to have much more impact than some economic dislocation thousands of miles away. Yes, a horrible human tragedy is causing those problems. But, while investors may be shocked personally, they focus on the numbers professionally.

And the numbers say mortgage rates are likely to move higher soon. So, if I were you, I'd hold off locking my mortgage rate to gain as much from current falls as possible. But I'd be ready to lock as soon as those rates begin to climb again.

Uncertainty

Of course, I can't tell the future. And it's still possible that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could push mortgage rates lower.

The most likely scenario that could cause that is the war forcing oil prices to spike so high that it tips the global economy into recession. That could force the Fed to rethink its planned counter–inflationary measures. And mortgage rates might fall.

But if oil prices spike without causing a recession, that would fuel higher inflation. And then the Fed would likely have to come up with even more aggressive measures – pushing mortgage rates even higher.

And then there are all the usual other economic risks that could push mortgage rates lower. Imagine if a new variant of COVID–19 were to emerge that was as infectious as the Omicron variant and as deadly as Delta. Or if the stock market were to crash. Or if Russia were to drag America into a shooting war.

These and other threats are possibilities. But let's hope they remain improbable.

For a more detailed look at what's happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this 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 that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.

Freddie's Feb. 24 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.89% (with 0.8 fees and points), down from the previous week's 3.92%.

Note that Freddie expects you to buy discount points ("with 0.8 fees and points") on closing that earn you a lower rate. If you don't do that, your rate would have been well over 4% that week, which is closer to the rates we and others quote.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rate forecasts for the four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Feb. 18 and the MBA's on Feb. 25. But Freddie now publishes these forecasts every quarter, most recently on Jan. 21.

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

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

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

Show me today's rates (Mar 2nd, 2022)

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.

February
18

How to buy a house in 2022

What to consider

Is now a good time to buy a house?

Yes and no. Mortgage rates reached record lows in early 2021 and have stayed low by historical standards throughout the year even as they fluctuated.  However, strong demand for homes pushed prices up and frustrated many potential homebuyers. According to the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, property prices rose by 18 percent between September 2020 and September 2021. Time may be running out to lock in an affordable mortgage because experts predict interest rates will continue to trend upward this year. In many areas of the country, Realtors reported intense competition for homes last year, with some properties getting dozens of offers and going into contract within days of being listed.

That reality has created inevitable concerns about buying at the peak. Home values go up over time, but there is a possibility that prices in some places have hit a plateau.

"I would be careful about buying near the top of the market, especially if I want to be in the home for only a few years," says Ken H. Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University and co-author of the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. "If you look to buy, bargain aggressively and be willing to walk away. Real estate most definitely is a good investment, but don't just buy now because that's what everybody else is doing."

Should I buy a house?

Taking the leap to homeownership can provide a feeling of pride while boosting your long-term financial outlook, if you go in well-prepared and with your eyes open.

When thinking about buying a home, consider whether you want to put down roots or maintain flexibility with your living situation. How secure is your job, and can you comfortably budget for home repairs and maintenance on top of monthly housing payments? Are you ready to stay in one place, and do you have kids or family members to consider?

When should I buy a house?

In normal times, spring is the traditional start of the home-buying season, with many listings typically hitting the market. The market still hasn't quite returned to normal since the coronavirus upended that schedule, however.. This winter should be relatively slow for buying, but with low housing inventory, it will still feel competitive compared to pre-pandemic off-seasons. 

At any rate your own financial readiness is more important than the time of year. This means having your finances organized and your credit in order so that you'll be able to smoothly secure a reasonable mortgage.

In addition to a down payment, potential homebuyers should have enough money set aside to cover closing costs, which can range from 2 percent to 4 percent of the purchase price.

When budgeting for your monthly mortgage payment, factor in not only the principal amount and interest, but also property taxes, homeowners insurance, homeowners association fees (if applicable), plus private mortgage insurance if you're putting down less than 20 percent. Don't forget to set aside money for ongoing maintenance and those unexpected repairs that are bound to pop up, too.

Here's a step-by-step guide on buying a house:

1. Understand why you want to buy a house

Purchasing a home is a major decision that shouldn't be taken lightly. If you're not clear on why you want to buy a house, you could end up regretting your decision.

How to get started: Define your personal and financial goals. "Buyers should think about things like when they intend on moving, what they want in a home (such as) amenities, ideal location and how long it could take them to save for a down payment," says Edwence Georges, a sales associate with RE/MAX in Westfield, New Jersey. "These are all important to help define the goals they would like to meet."

Key takeaways:

2. Check your credit score

Checking your credit score will help you determine your financing options; lenders use it (among other factors) to set your loan pricing and see if you're able to repay your mortgage. The better your credit history, the better the chances you'll have of securing financing with the best terms and rates. 

How to get started: You can get your credit report and score from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, for free once a year. Your bank or credit card company might offer free access to your score or credit report, too.

Key takeaways:

  • Consider how different credit score ranges impact your interest rate, monthly payments and total interest. In general, the lower your credit score, the more expensive your mortgage will be.
  • Pull your credit reports from each of the credit bureaus for free every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you discover any discrepancies, contact each agency and report the error.
  • Learn other ways to get your free credit report and score from Bankrate.

3. Create a housing budget

Setting a realistic budget for your new home will help inform what you can afford and how much your all-in costs will be.

How to get started: The purchase price isn't the whole picture. Carefully factor in other expenses to determine what you can afford.

"Buyers tend to forget to factor in other costs like (homeowners association) fees and setting money aside for maintenance costs. Just because you can afford a mortgage and a down payment doesn't mean you can afford those long-term costs after you move."

– Paige Kruger, Realtor, Founder, Signal Real Estate, Jacksonville Beach, Florida

Key takeaways:

  • Determine the maximum loan you qualify for.
  • Decide how much you can set aside for a down payment, plus a buffer fund for ongoing or unexpected maintenance costs. 
  • See if your monthly budget can handle the mortgage payment along with other bills such as day care, tuition, utilities, groceries and more.

4. Save for a down payment

To avoid private mortgage insurance, or PMI, you'll need to save at least 20 percent of the home's purchase price for a down payment. Some lenders offer mortgages without PMI with lower down payments, but expect to pay a higher interest rate.

How to get started: Research the down payment requirements for the loan you want so you know exactly how much you'll need. If a friend, relative or employer has offered to provide a down payment gift, initiate a conversation early on to learn how much they plan to contribute and if there's any shortfall you'll need to cover — and secure a gift letter from them well in advance, too.

Key takeaways:

  • If you don't have much saved for a down payment, consider options backed by the federal government. FHA loans, insured by the Federal Housing Administration, require just 3.5 percent down, while VA loans and USDA loans have no down payment requirement.
  • Conventional loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac require just 3 percent down.
  • Look into a local or state first-time homebuyer assistance program to help with closing costs or your down payment.

5. Shop for a mortgage

Getting preapproved for a mortgage is helpful when you make an offer on a house, and it gives you a firmer handle on how much you can afford.

How to get started: Shop around with at least three lenders or a mortgage broker to increase your chances of getting a low interest rate.

Key takeaways:

Sign up for a Bankrate account to determine the right time to strike on your mortgage with our daily rate trends.

6. Hire a real estate agent

An experienced real estate agent can save you time and money by helping you find your dream home and by negotiating with the seller on your behalf. 

How to get started: Contact several real estate agents and ask to meet with them for a conversation about your needs before choosing one. "Someone with knowledge of an area can also tell if your budget is realistic or not, depending on the features you desire in a home," Kruger says. "They can also point you to adjacent areas in your desired neighborhood or other types of considerations to help you find a house."

Key takeaways:

  • Before hiring a real estate agent, find out about their track record, knowledge of your desired neighborhood and what their workload is like. You don't want someone who is over-scheduled.
  • Agents can refer you to other professionals like home inspectors, contractors, appraisers and title companies; however, you should still shop around and compare fees from other professionals.

7. See multiple homes

Simply viewing listing photos isn't a substitute for visiting homes in person — with appropriate precautions in the pandemic — and getting to know the neighborhood and its amenities.

How to get started: Let your real estate agent know what specific kinds of homes you want to see, or search for homes online yourself. Your agent can create your profile in the local multiple listing service (MLS), a database of homes for sale, and set up automatic searches for those that meet your criteria. You may not be able to check off everything on your home amenity wish list, so you'll want to prioritize what's most important to you aside from location.

Key takeaways:

  • Drive through neighborhoods you like to see what's for sale, and attend open houses for homes that pique your interest. Remember to keep notes on each property you visit. After a few showings, it's easy to forget which homes you liked and why.
  • Keep your schedule open so you can pounce when a great home is listed, especially in a competitive seller's market. You could gain an edge over other buyers the sooner you see it and put your offer in.

8. Make an offer

Understanding how to make an attractive offer on a home can help increase your chances the seller will accept it, putting you one step closer to getting those coveted house keys.

How to get started: Once you find "the one," your real estate agent will help you prepare a complete offer package, including your offer price, your preapproval letter, proof of funds for a down payment (this helps in competitive markets) and terms or contingencies.

Key takeaways:

  • Sellers might counteroffer on your price, terms or contingencies. You can respond to the counteroffer if you wish, or reject it and move on.
  • Once an offer is accepted, you'll sign a purchase agreement that includes the price of the home and estimated closing date. You'll need to pay an earnest money deposit, typically 1 percent to 2 percent of the purchase price. The seller may have a right to keep the money if you back out.
  • Contingency clauses are designed to protect the buyer and typically include appraisal, financing and home inspection. If a home inspection report shows major problems, you can often back out of the contract and get a refund.

9. Get a home inspection

home inspection helps you get an overall picture of the property's mechanical and structural issues. The home inspection will help you determine how to proceed with the closing process. You might need to ask the seller for repairs, or you might decide to back out of the deal if you have a contingency in the contract.

How to get started: You can get recommendations for home inspectors from your real estate agent, but also be sure to do your own homework before choosing one. Depending on your contract and state of residence, you'll generally need to complete a home inspection 10 to 14 days after you sign a purchase agreement. As a buyer, you're usually responsible for paying the home inspector, and while the fees can vary, you'll pay an average of $270 to $400, according to HomeAdvisor by Angi.

Key takeaways:

  • To make sure the home inspector has enough experience, read online reviews, ask for past client references and look at their credentials.
  • Look at the home inspection checklist to understand what is and isn't covered.

10. Negotiate repairs and credits

Your home inspection report may reveal major or minor issues. Major problems will likely need to be dealt with before your mortgage lender will finalize your loan, while minor issues can often wait till you take possession of the home.

How to get started: Enlist your agent's help to negotiate with the seller. Ask for the seller to either do the repairs or give you a credit at closing.

Key takeaways:

  • If there are hazards like structural damage or improper electrical wiring, your lender might not approve your loan. Likewise, you might not have the budget or desire to handle such repairs after buying the home.
  • Some sellers won't agree to extensive repairs, and that's why a home inspection contingency is a good idea — to give you a way out of the purchase if the home isn't in ideal shape.

11. Secure your financing

Getting final loan approval means you need to keep your finances and credit in line during underwriting. Once you're ready to close, you won't want to open new credit lines or make other major purchases until the paperwork is signed.

How to get started: Respond promptly to requests for more documentation and double-check your loan estimate to ensure all the details are correct so there are no hiccups later. You may need to submit additional paperwork as your lender completes the underwriting process, such as:

  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • Additional proof of income
  • Gift letter or written statements explaining major deposits into your bank account

Key takeaways:

  • A preapproval doesn't mean you're in the clear until a lender has given the final stamp of approval. Keep your finances and credit in good shape from preapproval until closing day. If you can, avoid changing jobs before closing on your new home, too.

Also, avoid running up credit cards, taking out new loans or closing credit accounts. Doing any of these things can hurt your credit score or impact your debt-to-income ratio, and that can imperil your final loan approval.

12. Do a final walk-through

final walk-through is an opportunity to view the property before it becomes yours. This is your last chance to view the home, ask questions and address any outstanding issues before the house becomes your responsibility.

How to get started: Come with your home inspection checklist and other documents, like repair invoices and receipts for any work the owner conducted, to ensure everything was done as agreed upon and that the home is in move-in ready condition.

Key takeaways:

  • Ask your real estate agent to be there so they can act as a witness and help answer any questions you may have.
  • If repairs or issues haven't been addressed, have your agent communicate immediately with the seller and your lender. Your closing date might have to be delayed to ensure those issues are remedied first.

13. Close on your house

Once all contingencies have been met, you're happy with the final walk-through and the closing agent has given the green light to close, it's time to make it official and close on your home. In this final step, your lender will issue you a "clear to close" status on your loan.

How to get started: Three business days before your closing date, the lender will provide you with a closing disclosure that outlines all of your loan details, such as the monthly payment, loan type and term, interest rate, annual percentage rate (APR), loan fees and how much money you must bring to closing. At the closing, you (the buyer) will attend, along with your real estate agent, possibly the seller's agent, the seller, in some cases, and the closing agent, who may be a representative from the escrow or title company or a real estate attorney. This is also the time where you'll wire your closing costs and down payment, depending on the escrow company's procedures.

Key takeaways:

  • Before closing, review the closing disclosure carefully and compare it to the loan estimate to ensure closing fees and loan terms are the same. Ask questions about your loan and correct any errors (like your name or personal details) before you sign closing paperwork.
  • On closing day, review all of the documents you sign carefully, and ask for clarification on anything you don't understand.
  • Make sure you've been provided all house keys, entry codes and garage door openers before leaving closing.
  • You'll leave closing with copies of the paperwork (or a digital file) and your new house keys. Be sure to store your paperwork in a safe place for future reference.

Once all of the paperwork has been signed, the home is officially yours and you'll get those house keys. Congratulations! Now comes the fun part: moving in and making the house your home.

February
16

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates rose modestly yesterday. It was the ninth consecutive business day on which they've increased. So, fearsome February continues.

This morning, markets are fairly quiet, despite better–than–expected retail sales figures. And mortgage rates today might be unchanged or barely changed. But, as always, things might turn out differently as the hours pass.

Find your lowest rate. Start here (Feb 16th, 2022)

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 4.196% 4.219% +0.01% 
Conventional 15 year fixed 3.431% 3.461% +0.02% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.954% 3.986% +0.02% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 3.477% 3.543% Unchanged
30 year fixed FHA 4.309% 5.095% +0.16% 
15 year fixed FHA 3.644% 4.211% -0.05% 
30 year fixed VA 3.905% 4.109% -0.14% 
15 year fixed VA 3.38% 3.711% -0.13% 
5/1 ARM VA 4.75% 3.86% Unchanged

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

It's been an extraordinarily bad couple of weeks for mortgage rates. Of course, they're bound to fall again sometime.

But, unless that's triggered by some huge event, you should probably expect any decreases to be limited and relatively brief. I'd be surprised if they recovered more than a fraction of the ground that these rates have lost recently.

So my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

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

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 fell to 2.03% from 2.05%. (Good for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were lower. (Good for mortgage rates.) When investors are buying shares they're often selling bonds, which pushes prices of those down and increases yields and mortgage rates. The opposite may happen when indexes are lower. But this is an imperfect relationship
  • Oil prices moved up to $93.56 from $91.42 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices rose to $1,865 from $1,854 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 – inched higher to 38 from 37 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 hold steady or nearly steady. 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 (Feb 16th, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top–tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

To me, the prospects for mortgage rates look grim. Yes, they're bound to fall sometime. But there seems to be little prospect of their doing so in a worthwhile and sustained way.

The current main hope that they'll fall further and for longer relies on yesterday's announcement by Russia – that it's started to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border – being a feint. Such deception is certainly within President Vladimir Putin's playbook.

But wagering your next mortgage rate on his duplicity seems unwise. And I certainly wouldn't make such a bet.

The Fed

While the Ukrainian situation is being resolved (or not), mortgage rates might move up and down with news from the region. But, overall, they are likely to continue higher, though, with luck, more slowly than recently. That's because markets fear the Federal Reserve's reactions to high inflation, which are likely to drive all interest rates higher.

In an e–newsletter this morning, Jeff Sparshott of The Wall Street Journal summed up the situation admirably:

"[Fed Chair Jerome] Powell responded to the pandemic by doubling down on strategies developed by his predecessors to combat prolonged high unemployment and very low inflation. When the labor market healed rapidly and high inflation emerged as the bigger threat, he and his colleagues were caught by surprise. No Fed chairman since Paul Volcker in the early 1980s has had to grapple with inflation this high. The risk now is that his fight against inflation will cause a new recession, as Mr. Volcker's did."

No doubt Mr. Powell is well aware of all this and will do everything he can to avoid a new recession. And many economists believe that current inflation is structurally very different from what Mr. Volcker faced. But, as long as the current Fed is seen to be acting decisively to counter inflation, the pressure on mortgage rates to rise will continue.

For a more detailed look at what's happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this 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 that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so. So far in 2022, rises have been appreciable and relatively consistent.

Freddie's Feb. 10 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.69% (with 0.8 fees and points), up from the previous week's 3.55%.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

Looking further ahead, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) each has a team of economists dedicated to monitoring and forecasting what will happen to the economy, the housing sector and mortgage rates.

And here are their current rate forecasts for the four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jan. 19 and Freddie's and the MBA's on Jan. 21.

Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
Fannie Mae 3.2% 3.3%  3.3% 3.4%
Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
MBA 3.3% 3.5%  3.7% 4.0%

Personally, I was surprised that Fannie Mae only slightly increased its rate forecasts in January. It believes that rates for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages will average 3.2% over the current quarter. But, on the day its figures were published, we reported those for conventional loans were already up to 3.87%.

Do Fannie's economists expect those rates to plummet later this month or in February or March and remain lower in the following quarters? If so, they know something that I don't. And that their peers in Freddie and the MBA's teams don't, either, though I'm less optimistic than any of them.

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

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

Show me today's rates (Feb 16th, 2022)

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.

February
9

Today's mortgage and refinance rates

Average mortgage rates just edged higher yesterday. That was a relief after much sharper increases last Thursday and Friday. Yes, we're looking at the highest rates in nearly 30 months. But those 30 months saw the lowest rates in history. And all we're seeing now is a return to normal.

First thing this morning, markets were signaling that mortgage rates today might rise again. But any increase is likely to be moderate. And you need to be aware that the current volatility makes those markets even less predictable than normally.

Current mortgage and refinance rates

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 3.972% 3.994% Unchanged
Conventional 15 year fixed 3.118% 3.148% +0.02% 
Conventional 20 year fixed 3.694% 3.728% -0.03% 
Conventional 10 year fixed 3.221% 3.284% +0.02% 
30 year fixed FHA 4.04% 4.847% +0.02% 
15 year fixed FHA 3.244% 3.851% -0.09% 
30 year fixed VA 3.908% 4.108% +0.02% 
15 year fixed VA 3% 3.328% +0.11% 
5/1 ARM VA 4.611% 3.689% +0.16% 

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

Following fairly sharp rises in mortgage rates on the last two working days of last week, I've been talking about a time when they're likely to briefly plateau or dip a bit. If this Thursday morning's employment data are worse than expected, those rates might resume their climb. But, if they're better, we could see a longer plateau or even some worthwhile falls, depending on what the figures say.

I doubt these rates will continue increasing as quickly as they have over the last four months. But I also doubt they'll fall very far unless some dramatic and unlikely event intervenes.

So my personal rate lock recommendations remain:

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

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 rose to 1.97% from 1.93%. (Bad for mortgage rates.) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields
  • Major stock indexes were mixed. (Neutral 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 $89.67 from $91.32 a barrel. (Good for mortgage rates*.) Energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity
  • Gold prices edged up to $1,823 from $1,815 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 – climbed to 35 from 28 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

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 rise. 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 (Feb 9th, 2022)

Important notes on today's mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy's doing well and down when it's in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read 'How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care'
  2. Only "top–tier" borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you'll see advertised
  3. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements – though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  4. When daily rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  5. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases.

A lot is going on at the moment. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what's going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

This week

There's nothing in the news so far today that's likely to affect mortgage rates much. And nothing's changed since I laid out this week's agenda in yesterday's edition of this rate report.

So click that link if you're catching up. Otherwise, I've nothing new to tell you.

For a more detailed look at what's happening to mortgage rates, read the latest weekend edition of this 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 that year, according to Freddie Mac.

The most recent weekly record low occurred on Jan. 7, 2021, when it stood at 2.65% for 30–year fixed–rate mortgages.

Since then, the picture has been mixed with extended periods of rises and falls. Unfortunately, since last September, the rises have grown more pronounced, though not consistently so.

Freddie's Feb. 3 report puts that weekly average for 30–year, fixed–rate mortgages at 3.55% (with 0.8 fees and points), unchanged 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 four quarters of 2022 (Q1/22, Q2/22, Q3/22, Q4/22).

The numbers in the table below are for 30–year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie's were published on Jan. 19 and Freddie's and the MBA's on Jan. 21.

Forecaster Q1/22 Q2/22 Q3/22 Q4/22
Fannie Mae 3.2% 3.3%  3.3% 3.4%
Freddie Mac 3.5% 3.6%  3.7% 3.7%
MBA 3.3% 3.5%  3.7% 4.0%

Personally, I was surprised that Fannie Mae only slightly increased its rate forecasts in January. It believes that rates for 30–year, fixed-rate mortgages will average 3.2% over the current quarter. But, on the day its figures were published, we reported those for conventional loans were already up to 3.87%.

Do Fannie's economists expect those rates to plummet later this month or in February or March and remain lower in the following quarters? If so, they know something that I don't. And that their peers in Freddie and the MBA's teams don't, either, though I'm less optimistic than any of them.

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

Find your lowest rate today

You should comparison shop widely, no matter what sort of mortgage you want. As federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

"Shopping around for your mortgage has the potential to lead to real savings. It may not sound like much, but saving even a quarter of a point in interest on your mortgage saves you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan."

February
2

PERFECT DAY TRIP FOR COUPLES: HOLLAND, MICHIGAN

You may have heard of Holland, Michigan for its Tulip Festival in May, but it's a great town for couples to explore year-round, especially while staying at our bed and breakfast near Holland, MI.  With two lakeshores (Lake Michigan & Lake Macatawa), and six blocks of shops and restaurants, Holland makes for a perfect day trip destination during your stay at Castle in the Country. Located within a 30-minute drive from our Allegan, MI B&B, the downtown area has a variety of boutique shops, home accessory stores, outdoor outfitters, and bicycle shops. After shopping, you can duck into any one of a number of cafes, restaurants, or brewpubs where you can recharge with a cup of coffee or sip a glass of Michigan craft beer or wine.   Window-shopping or just people-watching is a favorite pastime along 8th street and heated sidewalks make this the perfect nearby city to enjoy during any season of the year.

Some of our favorite recommendations for couples to do in Downtown Holland are:

– Fustini's Oil and Vinegar specialty shop for tasting and buying a variety of olive oils and balsamic vinegar infused with many different spices, herbs, and fruits.

– The Seasoned Home where you can find shelves upon shelves of spices from around the world and a knowledgeable staff that is ready to offer advice on which spices to use to add spectacular flavor to any dish.

holland-mi-farm-market-rs

-The Holland Farmer's Market is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the months of May-December. Find an assortment of fresh produce from the area, fresh flowers, pumpkins and gourds for fall. During the holidays, visit the Christmas market to find gifts for loved ones and, of course, yourselves.

 Warner's Wine Tasting Room where guests have a chance to taste some of the 22+ wines made by the oldest winery in Michigan.

– New Holland Brewing Company – Brew Pub & Restaurant to enjoy an artisan craft beer including, but not limited to, their very own "Dragon's Milk". On Saturday afternoons, go on an educational tour of their production facility, or enjoy their outdoor Bier Garden.

Ten local Art Galleries – many couples think of Saugatuck when they think of art in Southwest Michigan, but Holland is home to plenty of art galleries as well. Many of them are on 8th Street right in the main downtown area, but there are also a few scattered about the town as well.

butchs

Restaurants we recommend:

 Butch's Drydock offers a fine-dining experience for a romantic dinner while celebrating the union between food and drink. Today Butch's is one of fewer than 800 restaurants worldwide to hold the Wine Spectators Best of Award of Excellence. Have a glass with your meal or browse the shelves of the wine cellar, stocked with more than 700 wines from around the globe, and purchase a bottle to enjoy back in your suite at Castle in the Country.

 Curragh's Irish Pub offers hearty Irish fare in a relaxed environment that encourages great conversation either indoors or outdoor patio dining.

– Boatwerks, located right on the waterfront of Lake Macatawa, has good food and an even better view. The outdoor seating is a huge patio with umbrella tables overlooking the water during the warmer months, but couples can't go wrong dining inside either as there is still a perfect view through the massive floor-to-ceiling windows lining the waterfront.

After you've wandered, shopped, satisfied your hunger, and quenched your thirst, come back to your whirlpool/fireplace suite at Castle in the Country, the premiere bed and breakfast near Holland, MI where a romantic and relaxing evening awaits you.

January
24

Where to Catch a Game: 5 Sports Bars in the Grand Rapids Area

In addition to being the home of several competitive sports teams such as the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Grand Rapids Griffins, Grand Rapids sports fans know there are tons of great places to catch a game on TV. Long-time residents can bank on a seat with a view at Peppino'sSpeakEZ Lounge  (especially good for soccer fans), Buffalo Wild Wings, or The Score on Plainfield. Dave & Busters on 28th Street has great screens and space too.

While sports lovers in Grand Rapids have plenty of great spots to cheer on their team, there are few venues you might not know about, or might not think of, when it comes to watching sports. Check out these five sports bars the next time you're ready to yell, "Go, team!"

GP Sports

With 40 TVs and a large projector-sized screen, every seat at GP Sports offers a view of the game. Although it's housed in the Amway Grand Plaza Curio Collection by Hilton, you won't find anything formal or stuffy at GP Sports.

It's fun to walk through the elegant four-star hotel lobby with its beautiful gold leaf ceiling and into the sports bar, where you can kick back in a casual, fun atmosphere and comfortably enjoy a drink and game in jeans. Try the black Angus beef burger – it doesn't disappoint!

Monelli's

The first time you walked into Monelli's in Wyoming you may think, "Wow. Why haven't I been here to watch games before?"

Monell is had six-count 'em – six projection TVs as well as 54 other TVs throughout the restaurant and at the bar. The TVs feature stadium-quality sound, so you can hear what's happening from anywhere in the restaurant. Fans show up for games in droves because they know there will be a great view regardless of their seat and the atmosphere is downright electric during big sporting events.

If that's not enough, sports fans, it also has 52 beers on tap. Game on!

JT's Pizza & Spirits

JT's Pizza has been serving up amazing homemade pizza and other Italian favorites from scratch since 1975, making it a long-time neighborhood favorite.

It upped its game last year with a 2,500+ square foot addition focused on sports fans. The new space features over 15 large TVs, a cozy, indoor fireplace, and 12 taps.

JT's designed the addition with garage doors that serve as walls. When warm weather arrives, they throw the garage doors open and allow guests to bask in the beauty of a Michigan summer. Sports, made-from-scratch goodness, and Michigan sunshine…what could be better?

Atwater Brewery

You may know that Atwater Brewery opened its doors in Grand Rapids in October of 2016 and has 40 rotating taps, but did you also know it's a good place to catch a game?

In addition to a large projection TV, it has six others, including four in the dining area and a couple at the bar. You're closer to the taps when you catch the game at the bar, making it my favorite place to watch. Its speaker system is hooked up to the projector TV, which allows it to play the audio for big games.

Atwater is housed in an impressively renovated space, originally built in 1923. In addition to simply being a beautiful old building, the high ceilings make it easy to take a peek at other screens when you want to keep track of multiple games.

Vitale's of Comstock Park

Vitale's has long been a favorite spot for great Italian food, grabbing drinks with friends, and watching a game. With six huge screens in the dining room as well as lots of TVs around the 36-seat football-shaped bar, sports fans don't miss any of the action-watching games here.

If you haven't visited its gorgeous, new patio – which they use for three seasons – you'll want to plan a visit soon. With glass garage doors and radiant heat flooring, it's a light, airy, and cozy place for sports fans to gather. It has five large TVs and a second bar that seats 14. Cheers!

This list doesn't nearly cover all of the great venues in Grand Rapids where you can catch a game. For other ideas, check out our full listing of sports bars.  And be sure to let us know your favorite. It's always fun to experience watching a game in a new place!

January
5

HOLLAND MARKET DATA

Holland Real Estate Market Snapshot

Homes for Sale 1 110 -22.0% decrease in inventory
New on Market 53 -48.5% decrease in new listings
Avg. Asking Price/Sq.Ft. $175 $7 decrease in List Price/Sq.Ft.
Avg. Sale Price $316,156 $20,768 decrease in avg sale price
Avg. Sale Price as % of Asking Price 99.8% -1.7% decrease in Sales to List Price
Avg. Sale Price/Sq.Ft. $172 $1 decrease in Sale Price/Sq.Ft.
Avg. Days on Market of Sold 52 2 decrease in days on market

HOLLAND REAL ESTATE MARKET DATA

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
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.

November
29

Dog Park at Van Raalte

Dog Park at Van Raalte

The Dog Park at Van Raalte - (located within Van Raalte Farm, off the 24th Street entrance) is three acres of fenced-in safety, mature shade trees, and a separate area for small dogs. The Dog Park is open daily 6 am - 11 pm.

PARK AMENITIES 

  • Enclosed, Heated, Dog Wash Station 
  • Play Structures for Pets
  • Water Fountain for Pets
  • Pet Clean-Up Waste Stations with Trash Bins
  • Year-Round Restrooms 
  • Benches for you to relax
  • Water-Bottle Filling Stations

Dutch Walking

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