Mortgage and refinance rates today, February 25, 2021

Today’s mortgage and refinance rates 

Average mortgage rates nudged higher yet again yesterday. Of course, these rates remain exceptionally low by historical standards and are at dream levels for most. But they’re not like they were in 2020 and early January.

First thing, it was looking likely that mortgage rates will rise again today, partly because this morning’s weekly job figures were better than many expected. Read on for a fuller analysis.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 28th, 2021)

Current mortgage and refinance rates 

Program Mortgage Rate APR* Change
Conventional 30 year fixed 2.982% 2.985% +0.02%
Conventional 15 year fixed 2.488% 2.497% Unchanged
Conventional 20 year fixed 2.894% 2.901% -0.03%
Conventional 10 year fixed 2.556% 2.58% -0.01%
30 year fixed FHA 2.762% 3.438% +0.02%
15 year fixed FHA 2.517% 3.099% Unchanged
5 year ARM FHA 2.5% 3.201% Unchanged
30 year fixed VA 2.372% 2.544% Unchanged
15 year fixed VA 2.25% 2.571% Unchanged
5 year ARM VA 2.5% 2.379% Unchanged
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.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 28th, 2021)


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

Should you lock a mortgage rate today?

On the one hand, investors want to believe that the pandemic will soon be over and the economy will boom. And they like that’s looking increasingly probable. But, on the other, they fear that a boom will unleash inflation, something that very much bothers those who hold fixed-interest bonds — including mortgage-backed securities.

The trouble is, both that belief and that fear tend to push up mortgage rates. And it’s that double-whammy that’s currently driving those rates higher.

Maybe some momentous news will come along that drags mortgage rates lower again. But it’s hard to imagine what might do so quickly. But read on for something that just possibly could.

Still, 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

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

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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 Treasurys edged up to 1.45% from 1.43%. (Bad for mortgage rates) More than any other market, mortgage rates normally tend to follow these particular Treasury bond yields, though less so recently
  • Major stock indexes were mostly lower on 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 happens when indexes are lower
  • Oil prices rose to $63.02 from $62.25 a barrel. (Bad for mortgage rates* because energy prices play a large role in creating inflation and also point to future economic activity.) 
  • Gold prices inched higher to $1,785 from $1,784 an ounce. (Neutral for mortgage rates*.) In general, it’s better for rates when gold rises, and worse when gold falls. Gold tends to rise when investors worry about the economy. And worried investors tend to push rates lower
  • CNN Business Fear & Greed index — Climbed to 69 from 57 out of 100. (Bad for mortgage rates.) “Greedy” investors push bond prices down (and interest rates up) as they leave the bond market and move into stocks, while “fearful” investors do the opposite. So lower readings are better than higher ones

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

Caveats about markets and rates

Before the pandemic and the Federal Reserve’s interventions in the mortgage market, you could look at the above figures and make a pretty good guess about what would happen to mortgage rates that day. But that’s no longer the case. The Fed is now a huge player and some days can overwhelm investor sentiment.

So use markets only as a rough guide. Because they have to be exceptionally strong (rates are likely to rise) or weak (they could fall) to rely on them. But, with that caveat, so far mortgage rates today look likely to move higher.

Find and lock a low rate (Feb 28th, 2021)

Important notes on today’s mortgage rates

Here are some things you need to know:

  1. The Fed’s ongoing interventions in the mortgage market (way over $1 trillion) should put continuing downward pressure on these rates. But it can’t work miracles all the time. And read “For once, the Fed DOES affect mortgage rates. Here’s why” if you want to understand this aspect of what’s happening
  2. Typically, mortgage rates go up when the economy’s doing well and down when it’s in trouble. But there are exceptions. Read How mortgage rates are determined and why you should care
  3. Only “top-tier” borrowers (with stellar credit scores, big down payments and very healthy finances) get the ultralow mortgage rates you’ll see advertised
  4. Lenders vary. Yours may or may not follow the crowd when it comes to daily rate movements — though they all usually follow the wider trend over time
  5. When rate changes are small, some lenders will adjust closing costs and leave their rate cards the same
  6. Refinance rates are typically close to those for purchases. But some types of refinances are higher following a regulatory change

So there’s a lot going on here. And nobody can claim to know with certainty what’s going to happen to mortgage rates in coming hours, days, weeks or months.

Are mortgage and refinance rates rising or falling?

Today and soon

I’m expecting mortgage rates to rise today. But, as always, that could change as the day progresses. Indeed, such intraday swings have become an irritating feature of markets.

Yesterday and recently, we’ve been saying that mortgage rates are unlikely to fall soon, absent some terrible news, such as a vaccine-resistant strain of SARS-CoV-2 emerging. Well, also yesterday, The New York Times reported:

A new form of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in New York City, and it carries a worrisome mutation that may weaken the effectiveness of vaccines, two teams of researchers have found.

The new variant, called B.1.526, first appeared in samples collected in the city in November. By the middle of this month, it accounted for about one in four viral sequences appearing in a database shared by scientists.


A New Coronavirus Variant Is Spreading in New York, Researchers Report — NYT, Feb. 24, 2021

The research is yet to be peer-reviewed and may turn out to be nothing. But the report does underline the uncertainty that we all have to contend with at the moment.

If I were you, I wouldn’t delay locking just on the basis of one story. It could take months before markets take the threat seriously — and even then only if it proves accurate. In the meantime, it currently looks more likely that rates will rise or remain close to current levels between now and when you have to close.

For more background on my wider thinking, read our latest weekend edition, which is published every Saturday soon after 10 a.m. (ET).

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. But rates then rose. And Freddie’s Feb. 25 report (today) puts that weekly average at 2.97%, up from the previous week’s 2.81%, and the highest it’s been for a year.

Expert mortgage rate forecasts

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

And here are their current rates forecasts for each quarter of 2021 (Q1/21, Q2/21, Q3/21 and Q4/21).

The numbers in the table below are for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages. Fannie’s and the MBA’s were updated on Feb. 18 and 19 respectively. But Freddie now publishes forecasts quarterly and its figures are from mid-January:

Forecaster Q1/21 Q2/21 Q3/21 Q4/21
Fannie Mae 2.8% 2.8% 2.9% 2.9%
Freddie Mac 2.9% 2.9% 3.0% 3.0%
MBA 2.8% 3.1% 3.3% 3.4%

However, given so many unknowables, the current crop of forecasts may be even more speculative than usual. And there’s certainly a widening spread as the year progresses.

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.

Verify your new rate (Feb 28th, 2021)

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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.

Source: themortgagereports.com

Rising mortgage rates push applications lower – HousingWire

For the second week in a row, mortgage applications decreased – this time, down 4.1% for the week ending Jan. 22, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association. The 30-year-fixed rate rose to 2.95%, its highest level since November 2020, according to Joel Kan, MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

All other mortgage rates in the survey posted a decline.

“In a sign that borrowers are increasingly more sensitive to higher rates, large declines in government purchase applications and refinance applications pulled overall activity lower,” Kan said. “Purchase applications also decreased last week, but the impressive trend of year-over-year growth since the second half of 2020 has continued in early 2021.”

The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 4% from one week earlier, while the unadjusted purchase index increased 3 % compared with the previous week.

The refinance index has now declined two straight weeks, but is still 83% higher than last year.


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Kan noted that the unadjusted purchase index was still 16% higher than the same week one year ago.

“Since hitting a recent low in April 2020, the average purchase loan amount has steadily risen – in line with the accelerating home-price appreciation occurring in most of the country because of strong demand and extremely low inventory levels,” he said.

The FHA share of total mortgage applications increased to 9.4% from 9.3% the week prior. The VA share of total mortgage applications decreased to 12.4% from 13.8% the week prior.

Here is a more detailed breakdown of this week’s mortgage application data:

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.95% from 2.92%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $510,400) decreased to 3.17% from 3.19%
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.88% from 3.01%
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 2.43% from 2.48%
  • The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 2.60% from 2.76%

Source: housingwire.com

Home Decor – Luxury townhomes available in Wylie – Fintech Zoom

Woodbridge in Wylie is Grenadier Homes’ newest community featuring luxury townhomes and numerous amenities. Priced from the mid-$200s, these two-story townhomes are designed to live like a single-family home and feature 20-foot-deep backyards that are ideal for pets.

Grenadier’s two- and three-bedroom plans are energy efficient and feature front-entry two-car garages, open-concept living spaces and spacious primary suites. Select floor plans offer a large secondary bedroom and attached bathroom.

“The HOA takes care of yardwork, exterior maintenance and so much more, giving homeowners more time to enjoy the community’s fabulous amenities, including a dog park and an open-air amenity center featuring a resort-style pool and covered outdoor lounge with a fireplace,” said a company spokesperson.

The two-story townhome at 608 Laurel Lane is ready for move-in. This plan features two bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms, a two-car garage, a 20-foot-deep backyard and nearly $13,000 in luxury design selections. The primary suite is on the second floor and offers 10-foot ceilings, double vanities and a walk-in closet. The home is priced at $280,898.

The townhome at 601 Emily Lane is also ready now and features more than $17,000 in luxury design selections. This end unit offers three bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms, open-concept living and a patio. It is listed at $291,009.

Priced at $313,798, the townhome at 604 Emily Lane backs to the community amenity center and will be ready in May. This home offers three bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms, an open-concept first floor and over $17,000 in luxury upgrades. The bedrooms and the laundry room are upstairs.

Woodbridge Townhomes is located close to Central Expressway, the Telecom Corridor and the Bush Turnpike. Homeowners also enjoy close proximity to the shopping, dining and entertainment options at Firewheel Town Center.

For more information about Woodbridge Townhomes, call 469-722-5487 or visit grenadierhomes.com.

To visit Woodbridge, take U.S. Highway 75 to State Highway 190/Bush Turnpike and proceed east for 6 miles. Take State Highway 78 north for 4 miles, then turn left on Woodbridge Parkway. Continue for 1 mile until you come to Hensley Road. The community is at the corner of Woodbridge Parkway and Hensley Road.

From northern points of the metroplex, travel east on FM544 and turn right on Country Club Road/Woodbridge Parkway. Continue less than 1 mile to Hensley Road.

Grenadier Homes is also building single-story villas in Woodbridge. Buyers interested in Grenadier’s two-story townhomes have even more opportunities at Windsong Ranch in Prosper, Meridian at Southgate in McKinney and Mira Lagos in Grand Prairie.

Source: fintechzoom.com

USAA Credit Cards Reporting As Closed [Fixed – Letter Sent Out]

Update 2/22/21: USAA has sent out letters surrounding this error.

Update: Seems like this issue has now been fixed.

Today a number of people have reported issues with their USAA credit cards being reported as ‘closed by the creditor’ by credit monitoring software. When USAA is contacted they state the card hasn’t actually been closed and they are receiving high call volume due to this issue but are unaware of exactly what is going on. We’ve reached out to USAA for comment.

Hat tip to reader musclera via DocBasher (USAA subreddit)

Source: doctorofcredit.com

How To Get Your Free Credit Report

AnnualCreditReport.com's website

What is a credit report?

Most people already know what a credit report is, but let’s go over the basics real quick just in case.

Credit reports are sometimes referred to as “credit files” or “credit history”. They are compiled by the three major credit reporting agencies, aka credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

What kind of information is on my credit report?

Credit reports include information such as your name, social security number, current and previous addresses, current and former employers, credit card and loan payments, credit inquiries, collection accounts and public records such as bankruptcies, judgments, foreclosures, and tax liens.

Each account listed on your credit reports will show the date the account was established, your payment history, credit limit, and the type of account (mortgage, installment, revolving, collection), etc.

How do I get my free annual credit report?

By law, under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). In addition, several states offer an additional free credit report per year, including:

  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • Vermont

Your free annual credit reports contain the same information that is found on a paid credit report: your open and closed financial accounts, and your payment history for each. You’ll generally find payment history for loans, credit cards, and revolving lines of credit. You may also see rental payments if you rent an apartment.

How do I order my free credit reports?

If you are getting your annual free credit reports, you can order them online through AnnualCreditReport.com.

This website will let you order all three of your free credit reports at once, with no obligations and no hidden fees. You may have to provide some personal information in order to confirm your identity before ordering, but you will not be charged if you use this site.

Please note that if you use these free credit reports to file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies, they have 45 days to investigate your dispute instead of the typical 30-day timeframe.

Other ways to get a free credit report:

The free annual credit report is available to everyone in the United States. However, in addition to that, you can also get a free credit report directly from a credit reporting agency if you’ve been denied credit.

You have 60 days from the time you are notified of the denial to request your credit report. Your request must also be with the credit reporting agency that was used to check your credit.

If you are ordering a free state report, or you are getting a free credit report due to any of the other factors we’ve talked about, you’ll need to contact the nationwide credit reporting agencies directly. Equifax and TransUnion make it easy to order these free credit reports online, but to get your free Experian credit report, you may need to call.

The contact information and links for each are here:

  • Free Experian Credit Report – call 1 866 200 6020 to confirm eligibility and get your credit report by mail or use this link.
  • Free Equifax Credit Report – order online through this link.
  • Free TransUnion Credit Report – order online through this link.

Remember: Keep track of when you order your credit reports and from which bureau(s) so that you know when you’ll be eligible to order your next credit report for free.

Can I get a free credit score too?

Unfortunately, the law does not mandate that credit reporting agencies give you a free credit score with your free credit reports. However, Lexington Law Firm offers a free FICO credit score as well as a free credit repair consultation. You can get that by visiting their site or calling 1 (800) 220-0084.

There are also several credit card companies that offer a free credit report.

You can often order your credit score alongside your free credit report for an additional fee as well from the credit reporting agencies. However, these scores are considered FAKOs as they are not real FICO credit scores (the credit scores that lenders use).

While the VantageScore (the credit score created by the credit reporting agencies to compete with Fair Isaac) is used by some businesses and institutions, the vast majority still rely on FICO scores to make credit decisions. So before you pay for any credit score, make sure that it’s one that will be useful to you.

If you want to monitor your credit reports and credit scores monthly, you might want to consider a credit monitoring service.

Can I get more than one free credit report per year?

If you’ve already ordered your legally-mandated free credit reports for the year and you don’t live in a state where you are entitled to an additional free report, there are still several situations which qualify you for an additional free credit report:

Negative actions as a result of your credit report such as:

  • Being denied for credit or a loan
  • Being denied for insurance
  • Being passed over for employment
  • Being denied a government license or benefit, or having an adverse action for either of these
  • Being denied or having an unfavorable action happening on another account (i.e. interest rates raised on your credit accounts, being denied a credit line increase, etc.)

Hardships that make it difficult to maintain positive credit such as:

  • You are currently unemployed and are planning to seek employment within the next 60 days
  • You are receiving or have recently received public welfare assistance
  • You believe that your credit file may be inaccurate due to fraud or identity theft

How can I dispute inaccurate information on my credit report?

If you find inaccurate or “questionable” information on your credit report, you can dispute the errors with the credit bureaus. We also offer free credit repair letters or if you need help getting rid of negative items on your credit reports, you can hire a credit repair service.

Mortgage Rates Climb But Linger Near Historic Lows

Mortgage rates have increased from historic lows, but not by much, as the coronavirus vaccine continues its rollout and the economy struggles to rebound from the global pandemic. So reports the Associated Press.

According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.97% in the week ending February 25, up 16 basis points from the prior week.

That compares with an average of 3.45% over the corresponding week in 2020.

Read the full article from the Associated Press. 

Source: themortgageleader.com

Third Stimulus Checks Are One Step Closer to Reality – How Much Will You Get?

The push for a third stimulus check started in December before the second-round of $600 payments were even authorized. So, we’ve had to wait a couple of months to see how this would all play out. But now, finally, we can clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Early Saturday morning, the House of Representative passed the budget reconciliation bill that is being used to usher President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package through Congress. (Reconciliation is a Congressional procedure that allows passage in the Senate with a simple majority vote instead of the usual 60 votes needed to avoid a filibuster.) If the bill is passed in the Senate – which is expected to happen by March 14 – the IRS will start processing the next round of stimulus checks shortly thereafter.

For most Americans, that news will trigger a familiar stimulus check question: How much will I get? You’ve probably heard by now that third-round stimulus checks will be for $1,400. And, based on the bill passed by the House, that’s correct. But that’s just the starting point. There’s also an additional amount for dependents, and a phase-out scheme that can reduce your stimulus payment to zero if you make too much money.

If you just want a quick estimate of your third stimulus check amount (based on the House bill), check out our Third Stimulus Check Calculator. If you want to know more about how that amount is calculated, keep reading.

[Stay on top of all the new stimulus bill developments – Sign up for the Kiplinger Today E-Newsletter. It’s FREE!]

Calculating Your Third Stimulus Check Amount

According to the bill passed by the House, there’s a $1,400 third stimulus check “base amount” that every eligible person will receive. For married couples that file a joint tax return, the base amount is $2,800.

Then, for each dependent in your family, an additional $1,400 will be tacked on. Note that, unlike the extra amount for first- and second-round stimulus checks that was only added for dependent children 16 years old or younger, the additional amount will be included on third-round stimulus checks for any dependent – regardless of their age. So, for example, you’ll get an extra $1,400 for older dependent children (including college students age 23 or younger) or elderly parents who are living with you.

Now for the bad news. As with the first two stimulus payments, third-round stimulus checks will be reduced – potentially to zero – for people reporting an adjusted gross income (AGI) above a certain amount on their latest tax return. If you filed your most recent tax return as a single filer, your third stimulus check will be phased-out under the bill passed by the House if your AGI is $75,000 or more. That threshold jumps to $112,500 for head-of-household filers, and to $150,000 for married couples filing a joint return. Third-round stimulus checks will be completely phased out for single filers with an AGI above $100,000, head-of-household filers with an AGI over $150,000, and joint filers with an AGI exceeding $200,000.

Assuming the House bill is enacted without change, your filing status, AGI, and number of dependents will be taken from either your 2019 or 2020 return. If your 2020 return is already filed and processed when the IRS is ready to send your payment, your stimulus check will be based on information from your 2020 return. If your 2020 return isn’t filed and processed at that point, the IRS will use your 2019 return. If your 2020 return is filed and/or processed after the IRS sends you a stimulus check, but before July 15, 2021 (or September 1 if the April 15 filing deadline is pushed back), the IRS will send you a second payment for the difference between what your payment should have been if based on your 2020 return and the payment actually sent based on your 2019 return.

Again, you can use our handy Third Stimulus Check Calculator to get a customized estimated payment amount. All you have to do is answer three easy questions. Plus, for more information about the proposed third stimulus check provisions, see The Current Plan for a $1,400 Third Stimulus Check.

Source: kiplinger.com