Mortgage Rates and Factors That Move Them

Mortgage rates come in different varieties as you may know. Fixed rate loans are usually most popular due to the fact that you don’t have to worry about rates going up on you over time. Currently in July, 2014 rates are still down near historic lows, although they were even lower last year. The amortizations come in 30 year, 25 year, 20 year 15 year and 10 years with most lenders. The big price break is going to be with a 15 year loan. Currently the spread between the 30 year fixed and 15 year fixed rate is 3/4%.

For those who intend to hold onto their home for the long term, and not sell in the near future, the fixed rate mortgage may be the best option. However, for those who are fairly certain that they will be selling in the not too distant future, the hybrid ARMs such as the 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 ARM could be a better option.

The spread between the 7/1 ARM and the 30 year fixed is also about 3/4 %. (4.375% VS 3.5%) So going with a 7/1 ARM will lock in your rate for the next 7 years and you don’t need to be concerned about rates rising. Here in the summer of 2014, rates are still down, but they will not be down forever.

Mortgage rates are normally quoted in 1/8% such as 4.125%. However, when you see a rate like 4.258% this is the annual percentage rate (APR) for the quoted rate. The APR is usually higher than the note rate when the loan contains closing costs which are being financed into the loan.

So what causes rates to go up and down? Although there are many factors affecting the movement of mortgage rates, probably the best indicator is the 10 year treasury bond yield. This is due to the fact that for most people, a 30 year fixed rate mortgage is paid off within 10 years either from the sale of the home or refinanced. Treasuries are also backed by the “full faith and credit of the US” which makes them a benchmark for other bonds as well.

Normally when the T-bond yields go up, mortgage rates also go up and vice versa. They may not go up exactly the same as yields though. There are also many reports that affect mortgage rates. The Consumer Price Index, Gross Domestic Product, Home Sales, Consumer Confidence, and other data on can have a significant effect.

Normally, if there is good economic news, rates will go up and with bad news rates will move down. If the stock market is rising mortgage rates will usually be rising also since both rise on positive economic news. Also when the Federal Reserve adjusts the Fed Funds rate, mortgage rates can go up or down. If it is a growing or inflationary economic pattern then rates will rise.

During the processing of your mortgage loan, normally your broker will lock in your rate for you to protect you in case rates rise while your loan is being processed. Locks go from 15 to 45 days with most lenders. This gives the broker enough time to process your loan and get it funded.

Keep in mind that the interest rate on your loan may be adjusted for various factors. Do not be taken in by a par rate. If you are doing a loan at a high loan to value (LTV) and you have a lower credit score (<700) there will be adjustments to your rate. The par rate is the rate at which the lender who is funding your loan neither charges or credits back any rebate to the broker. By picking a rate above par, you will receive this lender credit and it can be used to assist in paying your closing costs and prepaid expenses such as property taxes, hazard insurance, or interest.