Omicron variant – what is its impact on US mortgage rates?

Mortgage expert says the COVID variant has investors seeking safe havens

Omicron variant – what is its impact on US mortgage rates?

US mortgage rates increased again this week but remain relatively stable despite market volatility and economic threats from the Omicron COVID variant.

Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.11% in the week ending Dec. 2, up one basis point from the previous week. A year ago at this time, the benchmark home loan rate was just 2.71%.

In a statement, Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said “the consistency of rates in the face of changes in the economy is primarily due to the evolution of the pandemic, which lingers and continues to pose uncertainty. This low mortgage rate environment offers favorable conditions for refinancing.”

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The average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped three basis points week over week to 2.39%, while the five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage inched up two basis points to 2.49%. During this period last year, the 15-year FRM was 2.26%, and the five-year ARM averaged 2.86%.

“Mortgage rates have been on a bumpy upward trajectory since September,” said Holden Lewis, home and mortgage specialist at NerdWallet. “This week was one of those bumps, as investors sought the safety of government and mortgage bonds as they await more information about the new coronavirus variant.”