Coronavirus Uncertainty Fueling Low Rates

Last Week in Review: How Low Can Rates Go?

Home loan rates touched all-time lows this past week, fueling refinance activity and creating a sense of urgency for homebuyers to lock in purchase loans.

The question many people are asking is, “how low can rates go?”

The short answer — no one knows. A lot will be determined by the economic impact of the coronavirus and that is impossible to handicap at the moment.

What we do know:

  • The coronavirus outbreak is improving in China and the outbreak numbers here in the U.S. have not exploded, as of yet. This is good news, and should it continue, it is unlikely we will see much lower home loan rates in the near future.
  • Home loan rates have not improved in lockstep with the 10-year Note yield, which has also declined, though much more sharply, to a historic low of .66%. The reason — mortgage backed securities (MBS), where home loans are priced, carry a different risk profile than that of Treasuries. Investors in MBS are subject to refinance risk when rates go lower. To offset that risk, investors demand a premium within MBS which creates a higher price to both the lender and ultimately the homeowner.
  • Mortgage lenders are so busy they can hardly keep up with the business. What is one thing you don’t do when business is so busy? Lower price.

Bottom line: today represents a golden opportunity to lock in the best rates in the history of the U.S. and should be taken by those who can benefit.