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Will mortgage rates go down in October 2020? Forecast and trends

Tim Lucas
The Mortgage Reports editor

Mortgage rates forecast for October 2020

Mortgage rates have hit a new record low no less than nine times in 2020.

The COVID Era has driven rates to previously unimaginable levels as the Fed scrambles to spur the economy.

What matters to you as a homeowner or home buyer is that life-changing interest rates are available now.

One recent study shows that 2.5 million homeowners can save $500 per month — that’s how low rates are.

Want to strike while these savings are still available? That’s probably a good idea.

Find and lock a low rate today. (Oct 1st, 2020)

In this article:

Prepare for rising rates

September held the lowest rates of all time.

The average thirty-year fixed rate dropped to 2.86% according to Freddie Mac.

But just as everything seemed to be going well for mortgage rates, a shocking announcement came from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs): a 0.50% fee would be imposed on most refinances in the country.

Fortunately, the agencies have delayed the fee until December 1, 2020.

So there’s still a small window within which to lock in an all-time-low rate. Lenders will start raising refinance rates to compensate for the fee in early to mid-October

Ready to lock before this unwelcome development? Now is the time.

Lock in today's rates before they rise. (Oct 1st, 2020)
    Related

Mortgage rates next 90 days

This chart shows past mortgage rate trends, plus predictions for the next 90 days based on current events and 2020 forecasts from major housing authorities.

Mortgage Rates Next 90 Days - Predictions for Refinance and Mortgage Rates October 2020 and Beyond

Predictions for October 2020

Here are trends we see on the horizon in the upcoming month.

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac ‘adverse market refinance fee’ will raise most refinance rates

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the GSEs) shocked the lending world by planning a 0.50% fee on most refinances in the U.S.

The fee was set to go into effect September 1. But after industry backlash, the GSEs postponed until December 1.

But that doesn’t mean you have until December 1 to apply for a refinance.

It takes 45-60 days to get a refinance through a lender’s process and sold off to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Lenders will begin imposing the fee in early October as not to get stuck with the bill.

That means if you don’t lock in your refinance by mid-October, you will likely get a worse rate or pay more in closing costs.

The 0.50% fee applies to most loans that Fannie or Freddie. The exemptions are as follows.

The GSEs say the fee is to offset risk during extreme refinance volume and a global pandemic, hence the moniker “adverse market refinance fee.”

A 0.50% fee is equal to a $1,250 one-time, upfront fee on a $250,000 loan.

However, most consumers will absorb that fee by taking a higher rate. Covering the fee could increase your rate somewhere between 0.125% and 0.375%, say experts who weighed in with mortgage analyst Rob Chrisman.

So remember that 2.875% rate you wanted? Better lock now, or you’re looking at 3.0-3.25%.

That being said, mortgage rates will still be historically low. One year ago, the 30-year fixed was 3.6%, says Freddie Mac. So a 3.25% rate is still a fantastic deal.

Lock in today's rates. Start here. (Oct 1st, 2020)

Fed: We’re committed to low rates until 2023

The Federal Reserve’s most prominent committee, the FOMC, recently adjourned its September meeting.

In its post-meeting announcement, it reinforced its long-term strategy of keeping rates low for years — until at least 2023.

The rate-friendly stance is a boon for mortgage shoppers.

While the Fed doesn’t affect mortgage rates directly, its sentiment permeates the entire economy and helps all interest rates drift lower.

This “new Fed” has a very different philosophy compared to the Fed of early 2020, despite no change in leadership. The coronavirus pandemic made the group ultra-accommodative to low-rate policies to help boost the blind-sided economy.

The Fed is willing to let its policies drive inflation above 2% for extended periods — a break from its staunch two-percent-max goal. That means it will keep rates low even after it sees solid signs of inflation.

The group has transformed from an inflation-fearing body to a recession-fearing one.

Federal Reserve fed funds rate predictions through 2023. Pre-COVID and post-COVID projections.

For the average U.S. consumer, that means you’ll likely have access to ultra-low rates for years. There’s not a huge rush to buy or refinance a home before you’re ready.

But if you are ready, it’s a fantastic time to lock in. It seems stars are aligned for favorable rates.

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Housing agencies nationwide are calling for rates in the low 3s for the rest of 2020. One major agency even calls for continued sub-3% rates through year-end.

Agency 30-Yr Rate Prediction
Wells Fargo 2.95%
Fannie Mae 3.00%
Freddie Mac 3.20%
National Assoc. of Home Builders 3.34%
Mortgage Bankers Assoc. 3.50%
National Assoc. of Realtors 3.10%
Average of all agencies 3.18%
Mortgage rate predictions from major housing authorities for late-2020. Average of all forecasts is 3.18% 30-year fixed by year-end.

To sum it up, rate predictions vary widely. Today’s rate might be as good as we’ll see for years to come, or they might improve.

Mortgage strategies for October 2020

2020 election could drive up rates

In October, rates will be low despite the new 0.50% “adverse market refinance fee” from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

But this fee could be only part of the equation for late-2020.

We think rates have bottomed out and will start rising in November as we get closer to the U.S. election.

Why? There tends to be a sense of optimism with potential new leadership — no matter the outgoing or incoming party. With optimism comes more risk-taking and less appetite for mortgage bonds. Lower demand for mortgage bonds makes rates rise.

It’s hard to predict how markets will interpret the end of the Trump era, if it occurs. They could view a Democratic president as bad for business, stifling the economy and keeping rates low. We saw the opposite happen after the 2016 election: rates skyrocketed because markets foresaw an era of business-friendly leadership.

Whatever happens with the election, we feel there is significant risk of higher rates toward year-end.

But if you’re not ready yet, rates will still be historically low for some time. We feel that worse-case rates would hit the mid-3s in late 2020. This is still fantastically low. Just not as low if you’re comparing them to the sub-3% rates available this summer and fall.

2.5 million homeowners could save $500+ per month

One astonishing finding from a recent Black Knight report was that nearly 20 million homeowners could cut their mortgage rate by at least 0.75%.

This is the largest number ever.

But the more salient discovery was how much many of those could save.

The study found that 2.5 million of them could save an eye-popping $500 or more per month.

The only question is, why aren’t more homeowners breaking down their lender’s door? Despite record-low rates and life-changing savings, some are either waiting for even lower rates or just haven’t had the time to apply.

Or, perhaps there’s a credit issue, a lost job, or other barrier to refinancing.

But one thing is certain: everyone owes it to themselves to check their qualification status, and how much they could save.

They could be in for a very pleasant surprise.

Get started on your loan application here. (Oct 1st, 2020)

Loan product rate updates

Many mortgage shoppers don’t realize there are many different types of rates. But this knowledge can help home buyers and refinancing households find the best value for their situation.

Following are updates for specific loan types and their corresponding rates.

Conventional loan rates

Conventional refinance rates and those for home purchases have trended lower in 2020.

According to loan software company Ellie Mae, the 30-year mortgage rate averaged 3.12% in August (the most recent data available), down from 3.26% in July.

This is higher than Freddie Mac’s 2.86% average because it factors in low credit and low-down-payment conventional loan closings, which tend to come with higher rates. Plus, it’s a more delayed report, and rates have been dropping.

Lower credit score borrowers can use conventional loans, but these loans are more suited for those with decent credit and at least 3% down. Five percent down is preferable due to higher rates that come with lower down payments.

Twenty percent of equity is preferred when refinancing.

With adequate equity in the home, a conventional refinance can pay off any loan type. Got an Alt-A, subprime, or high-PMI loan? A conventional refi can take care of it.

For instance, say you purchased a home three years ago with an FHA loan at 3.5% down. Since then, home values have skyrocketed.

You now have 20% equity, so you can refinance into a conventional loan and eliminate FHA mortgage insurance.

This could be a savings of hundreds of dollars per month, even if your interest rate goes up.

Getting rid of mortgage insurance is a big deal. This mortgage calculator with PMI estimates your current mortgage insurance cost. Enter a 20% down payment to see your new payment without PMI.

Find a low conventional loan rate. Start here. (Oct 1st, 2020)

FHA mortgage rates

FHA is currently the go-to program for home buyers who may not qualify for conventional loans.

The good news is that you will get a similar rate — or even lower — with an FHA loan than you will with conventional.

Related: Read more about FHA costs and requirements on our FHA loan calculator page.

According to loan software company Ellie Mae, which processes more than 3 million loans per year, FHA loan rates averaged 3.10% in August, a bit lower than the average conventional rate.

Another interesting stat from Ellie Mae: About 20% of all FHA loans are issued to applicants with scores below 650.

FHA loans come with mortgage insurance. But the overall cost is not much more than for conventional loans.

A little-known program, called the FHA streamline refinance, lets you convert your current FHA loan into a new one at a lower rate if rates are now lower.

An FHA streamline requires no W2s, pay stubs, or tax returns. And you don’t need an appraisal, so home value doesn’t matter.

Learn more about the FHA streamline refinance here.

Find low FHA rates. Start here. (Oct 1st, 2020)

VA mortgage rates

Homeowners with a VA loan currently are eligible for the ever-popular VA streamline refinance.

No income, asset, or appraisal documentation is required.

If you’ve experienced a loss of income or diminished savings, a VA streamline can get you into a lower rate and better financial situation. This is true even when you wouldn’t qualify for a standard refinance.

But don’t overlook the VA loan for home buying. It requires zero down payment. That means if you have the cash for closing costs, or can get them paid for by the seller, you can buy a home without raising any additional funds.

Don’t overlook the VA loan for home buying. It requires zero down payment.

VA mortgages are offered by local and national lenders, not by the government directly.

This public-private partnership offers consumers the best of both worlds: strong government backing and the convenience and speed of a private company.

Most lenders will accept scores down to 620, or even lower. Plus, you don’t pay high interest rates for low scores.

Quite the contrary, VA loans come with the lowest rates of all loan types according to Ellie Mae. In August, (the most recent data available), 30-year VA mortgage rates averaged just 2.86% while conventional loans averaged 3.12%, representing a big discount if you’re a veteran.

Check your monthly payment with this VA loan calculator.

There’s incredible value in VA loans.

Check today's VA loan rates. Start here. (Oct 1st, 2020)

USDA mortgage rates

Like FHA and VA, current USDA loan holders can refinance via a “streamlined” process.

With the USDA streamline refinance, you don’t need a new appraisal. You don’t even have to qualify using your current income. The lender will only make sure that you are still within USDA income limits.

More about the USDA streamline refinance.

Home buyers are also learning the benefits of the USDA loan program for home buying.

No down payment is required, and rates are ultra-low.

Home payments can be even lower than rent payments, as this USDA loan calculator shows.

Qualification is easier because the government wants to spur homeownership in rural areas. Home buyers might qualify even if they’ve been turned down for another loan type in the past.

Find a lock low USDA rates. (Oct 1st, 2020)

Mortgage rates today

While a monthly mortgage rate forecast is helpful, it’s important to know that rates change daily.

You might get 3.00% today, and 3.125% tomorrow. Many factors alter the direction of current mortgage rates.

To get a synopsis of what’s happening today, visit our daily rate update. You will find live rates and lock recommendations.

October economic calendar

The next thirty days hold no shortage of market-moving news. In general, news that points to a strengthening economy could mean higher rates, while bad news can make rates drop.

  • Thursday, October 1: ISM Manufacturing
  • Friday, October 2: Nonfarm Payrolls, wages, unemployment rate
  • Tuesday, October 13: Inflation Rate
  • Friday, October 16: Retail Sales
  • Monday, October 19: NAHB Housing Market Index
  • Tuesday, October 20: Housing Starts, Building Permits
  • Thursday, October 22: Existing Home Sales
  • Thursday, October 29: Pending Home Sales
  • Friday, October 30: Personal Income, Personal Spending

Now could be the time to lock in a rate in case these events push up rates this month.

Mortgage rates Q&A

In this FAQ:

Below are some of the most common questions about mortgage rates.

What are the current mortgage rates today

Mortgage rates fluctuate based on market conditions and your specific situation. For instance, someone with a high credit score will get a lower rate than someone with a low score. To see average rates, go to themortgagereports.com/today or contact a lender over the phone or online here.

Will mortgage interest rates go down in 2020?

According to our survey of major housing authorities such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage will average around 3.18% through 2020. Rates are hovering below this level as of September 2020. See the full forecast from housing authorities here.

Can you negotiate a better mortgage rate?

Yes. Lenders have the flexibility to drop their rates and fees. Often, you must approach a lender with a better offer in writing before they will lower their rate.

Is 3.875% a good mortgage rate?

Historically, it’s a fantastic mortgage rate. But, rates are currently hovering lower than this for well-qualified applicants. The average rate since 1971 is more than 8% for a 30-year fixed mortgage. To see if 3.875% is a good rate right now and for you, get 3-4 mortgage quotes and see what other lenders offer. Rates vary greatly based on the market and your profile (credit score, down payment, and more).

Which mortgage company has the best rates?

Most companies have similar rates. However, some offer ultra-low rates to gain market share. Others have lower rates for FHA than conventional, or vice versa. The only way to know if your company is offering the lowest rate is to get quotes from various lenders. Read our report of data collected from 5.9 million loans where we rank the top 24 US lenders by rate and fees.

How much does 1 point lower your interest rate?

A point is a fee equal to 1% of your loan amount, or $1,000 for every $100,000 borrowed. Your rate could drop 0.25%-0.50% or more for each point paid, however, that can vary greatly depending on the lender, loan characteristics, and borrower profile.

How can I avoid paying closing costs?

You can 1) request a lender credit; 2) request a seller credit (if buying a home); 3) increase your mortgage rate to avoid points; 4) get a down payment gift (which can be used for closing costs); 5) get down payment assistance. Find more strategies here.

What are today’s mortgage rates?

Low mortgage rates are still available. You can get a rate quote within minutes with just a few simple steps to start.

Show Me Today's Rates (Oct 1st, 2020)  

Selected sources:

  • https://www.elliemae.com/mortgage-data/origination-insight-reports
  • https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/calendar
  • https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/fomccalendars.htm
  • https://www.blackknightinc.com/blog-posts/cnbc-on-black-knight-data-record-19-3m-refinance-candidates/