The economic outlook keeps improving, and yet mortgage rates remain at all-time lows. Rates ticked down this week, matching a record low set two weeks ago, according to a Bankrate survey released Wednesday.
The average cost of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 2.95 percent from last week’s 2.96 percent in Bankrate’s national survey of lenders. The 15-year fixed also tied a record, dropping to 2.37 percent. Bankrate includes origination points and other fees in its figure. The 30-year fixed-rate loans in this week’s survey included an average total of 0.3 discount and origination points.
Mortgage rates have been in steady decline since the coronavirus recession struck in the spring of 2020, a trend that has helped drive the surprisingly strong housing market. The continued drop in mortgage rates reflects mixed signals from the economy. The latest spike in coronavirus cases undermined hopeful signs that COVID-19 vaccines soon will curb the pandemic, and the economic recovery so far has been uneven and incomplete.
In one sign of optimism, the 10-year Treasury yield, a key indicator for mortgage rates, topped 1 percent Wednesday. That marked the first time since March that the benchmark rate rose above 1 percent. The move was possibly spurred by Democrats’ strong showing in the Georgia runoffs for two seats in the U.S. Senate — should Democrats win control of the Senate, the logic goes, a generous stimulus bill will follow.
“Mortgage rates should rise on the Treasury surpassing 1 percent and improved prospects on another round of stimulus,” says Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Haus.com.
Fully 77 percent of mortgage experts polled by Bankrate expect rates to rise in the coming week, while 15 percent expect rates to go fall. Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst, is among those who think rates will head up in the coming days. However, he’s uncertain whether the trend will last.
“Investors are pricing in the expectation of more stimulus, potentially stronger economic growth and most importantly higher inflation,” he says. “Whether or not this all comes to pass will be an open question for months to come.”