Why a Mortgage Rate Drop? Probably Due to Russia

Analysts still expect mortgage rate increases this year due to Fed actions, but investors flock to bonds when they get jittery – and that often lowers mortgage rates.

NEW YORK – U.S. mortgage rates have risen this year and are expected to continue doing so, but the conflict between Russia and Ukraine could throw a wild card into those projections.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed by 37 basis points over the first two full weeks of February, according to Freddie Mac. But last week, as Russia invaded Ukraine, rates dropped to 3.89% for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, and down to 3.76% this week.

“When global investors sense increased uncertainty, there is a ‘flight to safety’ in the U.S. Treasury bonds, which causes their prices to go up, and their yield to go down,” says Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at First American. “Consequently, amidst heightened uncertainty due to the worsening events in Ukraine, there is a possibility that investors flocked to U.S. Treasury bonds, which may result in a temporary, short-term decline in mortgage rates.”

The Federal Reserve announced it would be raising its funds rate multiple times this year and says it will address this more at its next meeting, March 15 and 16.

However, the Fed also didn’t consider the Russia-Ukraine conflict before announcing moves planned for this year. As a result, the Fed could change how aggressive it is with rates, according to The Mortgage Reports.

The Fed’s key rate does not directly affect mortgage rates, but it can influence them.

Source: “How Russia Invading Ukraine Could Impact U.S. Interest Rates,” The Mortgage Reports (March 1, 2022)

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