What does coronavirus mean for mortgage rates and your home loan?

Mortgage rates have stabilized at a low level since the Federal Reserve lowered short-term interest rates and invested money in the mortgage financing system.

The Federal Reserve took action in March to maintain cash flow through the mortgage finance system. These measures, which included two rate cuts, were part of the central bank’s broader efforts to protect the economy from further damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages and mortgages have fallen since the Fed made a commitment to buy billions of mortgage-backed securities and cut short-term interest rates. However, fewer homes are launched and mortgage demand has declined, signaling lower home sales.

This means the following for homebuyers, homeowners considering refinancing, people with variable-rate mortgages, and anyone who wants to know if they should fix an interest rate.

Why did the Fed lower its rates?

Mortgage rates started to drop weeks before the Fed’s first rate cut on March 3. Then, 12 days after the drop of half a percentage point, the Fed announced a further full cut of the surprise rate percentage point and set a target for federal funds rates of 0% to 0.25%.

The rate cuts are expected to stimulate the economy when the worst pandemic is over and people are back at work and full checks are back. The Fed announced after its next meeting on April 28 and 29, 2020 that it would keep federal interest rates close to zero until it was satisfied that the economy had survived recent events and was on track to ‘achieve its goals. maximum employment and price stability. 

The impact on mortgage rates

The Fed also announced in March that it would buy as many mortgage-backed securities as necessary “to support the functioning of the market”. This tactic, known as quantitative easing, is designed to maintain the flow of money through the financial system.

The purpose of purchasing mortgage-backed securities is to ensure that lenders have funds for home buyers and to refinance borrowers. Fixed-rate mortgage rates fell by almost half a percentage point from mid-March to mid-April. The Fed announced in April that it would continue its quantitative easing program.

Homebuyers and sellers responded to COVID-19 by withdrawing. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a decline in mortgage applications in mid-March and early April.

The Fed’s rate cuts on March 3 and 15 were good news for those with floating rate residential mortgages and lines of credit-driven by Fed rate fluctuations. Initial interest rates at 5/1 ARM did not change significantly in the NerdWallet rate survey, but ARMs will likely see lower rates in their next reset period. In mid-April, HELOC rates were on average about 1.25 percentage points lower in mid-February.


Many homeowners are now refinancing. Lenders carry heavy workloads. You can contribute to the discharge by submitting a complete application with all the necessary documents. Online applications usually notify you if you have not submitted all the necessary documents.

Other tips:

Know why you are refinancing in order to get the right loan. You could receive a lower monthly payment, shorten the term of the loan, replace your variable rate mortgage with a low-interest loan, take out more loans than you need to refinance, or cancel FHA mortgage insurance.

Buy more than one lender. You are more likely to get the best deal possible by submitting to multiple lenders. Each lender provides you with an information document called a credit estimate. By comparing the credit ratings, you can find the best deal.

Listen to advice from your loan officer on how to freeze your interest rate. Normally, you can set fees upon request. However, as the market is in crisis, some lenders will not close until later in the underwriting process.


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