Mortgage rates in the mid-3s in January should put some pep in the buyers’ step. From MND:

Regular readers know that we’re fond of setting the weekly record straight in cases where day-to-day rate movements paint a drastically different picture than weekly surveys.  When it comes to the latter, there’s really only one game in town.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey is not only the longest running weekly survey.  It’s also by far and away the most widely cited in financial media.  It’s even relied upon by the mortgage industry for certain calculations that affect borrower eligibility.

Unfortunately, the rate that Freddie published today (3.22% for a 30yr fixed) is a drastic departure from reality.  3.375% would be an aggressive rate quote this afternoon, and the average lender is closer to 3.50%!  A gap of just over 0.25% might not seem like a lot, but consider that it held inside a range roughly half as big for the entirety of the 4th quarter of 2021!  It can take months for rates to rise a quarter of a point and we just did it in a few days.

So is Freddie’s number wrong?  Not exactly.  It would be more accurate to say it’s “late” or “stale.”  Freddie’s methodology allows for survey responses from Monday through Wednesday before publishing results on Thursday.  Most of the responses are in on Monday morning.  Few come in on Wednesday.  As such, the survey ends up being a fairly accurate record of “Monday vs Monday” mortgage rates.

But the reporters who cover it simply refer to it as “this week’s mortgage rates.” While that’s all well and good when rates are holding fairly flat, or when the audience is simply keeping an eye on long-term rate trends, it does a disservice to those who are following rate changes for more timely reasons.  This is especially true when there’s been muted movement at the end of the previous week and big movement in the new week, as is the case currently.

Bottom line, no one is lying to you, but the timelier truth is that 3.22% is old news.

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