How Often Do Mortgage Rates Change?

by John Glynn on February 2, 2011

Your rate quote expires every 2.29 hours on average

Number of mortgage rate sheets per day in January

One of the things that can be difficult about shopping for a mortgage, or for a mortgage provider, is that as you make contact with a few people and ask about rates, the ground is shifting beneath your feet.

Call one lender first thing in the morning, email two others at lunch, one of whom doesn’t reply until the end of the day, and you’re looking at three different ‘vintages’ of rate quote. Can a fair comparison be made?


But you’ll need to know first if rates have changed over the course of the day. And based on recent history, odds are you’ll be comparing apples and oranges. Ok, to be fair, oranges and tangerines.

But when it comes to mortgage quotes, the little differences can be meaningful. If you want to maximize your shopping results, you need to make sure you are comparing quotes from the same vintage.

Rates changed ever 2.29 hours in January

In January, there were 20 bond trading days. We received 61 rate sheets over those 21 days, or an average 3.05 rate sheets per day. There were at least 2 rate sheets per day, and the most extreme day had 6 different sheets.

Most lenders have open lock desks for 8 hours a day. Some are open for 9, and the most aggressive lenders, often the most sensitive to bond market fluctuation, accept rate locks for about 6 or 6 1/2 hours a day. On turbulent bond market days, they often delay the first rate sheet release.

Assuming an average of 7 hours for an open lock desk, and 3.05 rate sheets per day, that means rates changed every 2.29 hours.

How to stay in front of it

First, make sure you get your rate quotes in the same vintage. This means that any lender who isn’t quick to reply isn’t really helping out. Second, make sure your lender is tuned in to the economic calendar, so that you can be aware of what days are more or less likely to be volatile ones. Working with them to create a lock and pricing strategy suitable for your transaction will probably shed some light on who you’re working with, and serve you far better in the long run than comparing oranges and tangerines.

Need help with a rate lock strategy? Contact me below and tell me how I can help.

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