Mortgage Rates Thursday, March 16: Major Drop on Heels of Fed Hike

Mortgage Rates, Mortgages
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A day after the Fed raised short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, mortgage rates today for 30- and 15-year fixed loans dropped substantially, by nine and 10 basis points, respectively, while 5/1 ARMs dipped by two basis points, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage rates published by national lenders on Thursday morning.

Why the sharp drop in mortgage rates after a Fed rate hike? The increase was widely expected and had been built into mortgage loan pricing ahead of the announcement, so it wasn’t quite the shock to the system, Lynn Fisher, vice president of research and economics with the Mortgage Bankers Association, tells NerdWallet.

After the Fed’s announcement, Fisher says, the 10-year Treasury yield dropped, which, in turn, prompted banks to lower their mortgage rates today. Strong economic and labor data showing higher-than-expected increases in job growth in both January and February will continue to push rates higher. In fact, two more Fed rate increases are expected in June and September, she says.

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So what does this mean for consumers?

“Some home buyers will need to make adjustments in the near term on home price when rates do rise, but in general, consumer sentiment signals that people feel their situation is better today than it was a year ago,” Fisher says. “That’s a function of earning more and having more confidence in job stability, which will offset [rate increases] a bit.”

That said, there’s still the question of affordability as home prices continue to soar in some housing markets, she says. But home-price growth in the existing-home market means we should see new construction ramp up, which can help alleviate inventory shortages, Fisher says.

Homeowners looking to lower their mortgage rate can shop for refinance lenders here.

NerdWallet daily mortgage rates are an average of the published annual percentage rate with the lowest points for each loan term offered by a sampling of major national lenders. APR quotes reflect an interest rate plus points, fees and other expenses, providing the most accurate view of the costs a borrower might pay.

Deborah Kearns is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: dkearns@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @debbie_kearns.

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