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Mortgage Rates Wednesday, Feb. 1: Small Moves; Fed Decision Day; Crackdown on Kickbacks

Feb. 1, 2017
Mortgage Rates, Mortgages
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Thirty-year and 15-year fixed mortgage rates stepped higher today, while 5/1 ARM rates sagged slightly, according to a NerdWallet survey of mortgage interest rates published by national lenders Wednesday morning.

The Federal Reserve left short-term interest rates unchanged today, as was widely expected. With mortgage rates seeking direction, the next bond market catalyst could be Friday’s employment report issued by the U.S. Labor Department.

Mortgage Rates Today,
Wednesday, Feb. 1

(Change from 1/31)
30-year fixed: 4.45% APR (+0.02)
15-year fixed: 3.83% APR (+0.01)
5/1 ARM: 3.82% APR (-0.02)

Government crackdown on real estate kickbacks

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau slapped a $3.5 million fine on Prospect Mortgage Tuesday, claiming the lender made illegal payments for loan referrals to more than 100 real estate brokers and a mortgage servicer.

“Today’s action sends a clear message that it is illegal to make or accept payments for mortgage referrals,” Richard Cordray, the CFPB director, said in a release. “We will hold both sides of these improper arrangements accountable for breaking the law, which skews the real estate market to the disadvantage of consumers and honest businesses.”

>> MORE: The pros and cons of home equity lines of credit

Named in the CFPB action, in addition to Prospect Mortgage, were ReMax Gold Coast, based in Ventura, California, and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette of Corvallis, Oregon. The companies were two of more than 100 real estate brokers alleged to have been referring borrowers to Prospect Mortgage and receiving illegal fees in return, according to the CFPB.

Planet Home Lending was also named in the consent order, blamed for steering refinance business to Prospect for a cut of the sales.

While it is common for real estate agents and brokers to recommend services to home buyers, it is illegal to accept fees or kickbacks for referrals. The law encompasses not only lending, but all loan settlement services, including title insurance, inspections and appraisals.

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.

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Hal Bundrick is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @halmbundrick.