Lenders Keeping Mortgage Rates From Going Lower?

March 9, 2020

Mortgage rates dropped to an all-time low last week as the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which tends to influence the direction of mortgage rates, posted a record-setting decline. But housing analysts say lenders may be stepping in to prevent mortgage rates from going even lower. The interest rate for the 10-year Treasury stood at 0.76% Friday afternoon—it had never before dropped below 1.1%—while Freddie Mac reported that the interest rate for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 3.29% for the week ending March 5.

Housing analysts say that with the low 10-year Treasury rate, borrowers should be able to get a mortgage rate of 2.75% or lower. But that’s not occurring, HousingWire reports, because some lenders may be purposely keeping rates higher in order to prevent demand from going too high. The lenders aim to ensure they can fulfill elevated mortgage requests due to a surge in demand.

Lenders say they can only handle so much volume. “The current market conditions can create exceptional opportunities for consumers, but I think it’s going to be critical for consumers to be very knowledgeable and, importantly, very patient,” says LoanDepot CEO Anthony Hsieh. “The analogy I would use is this: When you are using shared Wi-Fi at an airport, sometimes speed can be slowed because everyone around you is trying to use the same services. This market is unpredictable, but upcoming capacity demand for refinance may create a similar, slowed experience.”

Some lenders are extending their rate-lock windows up to 180 days to make sure they can close on new loans.