Checking Out Rates on the Internet, Newspaper or TV? Check the Freshness Date.


When I’m reviewing rates with clients, many are surprised to learn how quickly pricing can change. It’s not unusual to hear a home buyer or someone considering a refinance say, “well how come I see “X” rate on the [insert your media here: internet, newspaper, television commercial, you get the idea]”.

As soon as a rate is posted, even on the internet, it may have changed. This is because mortgage rates are based on mortgage backed securities (bonds) and can change several times a day, similar to the stock market and sometimes just as volatile.  The more fresh a quoted mortgage rate is, the better odds you have of it being reliable.

How can you tell how fresh a published mortgage rate is?

When I publish a mortgage rate on my blog or Twitter, it includes a date and time (down to the very minute that I priced the rate from the various lenders we work with). If the website you’re looking at does not include a date or time that is obviously connected with the posted rate, odds are the rate is stale. How do you know when “Today’s Rates” was published if it’s not stamped with a date and time.

Rates published in the newspaper or advertised on the television or radio have far less odds of being “fresh”. Think about how far in advance an advertisement needs to be submitted to these types of medias before it can be promoted? Days? Weeks?  Unless it’s a “live” show and not pre-recorded, it’s not a fresh rate. I don’t know why, but it seems that most of the “bait and switch” style rate quotes that I see happen to be on the radio or in the newspaper.

Does the published rate apply to you?

There are several factors that impact what a persons mortgage rate will be. When I’m researching a rate on our pricing engine, there are 14 fields that I have to enter before it will produce rates from the lenders we work with. Unless the rate quote you’re viewing happens to exactly match your criteria (the same 14 points of data), it doesn’t even apply to you (fresh or stale).

Rates are not the only thing that changes once published.

If you’re reading an article about specific mortgage programs or guidelines, keep in mind that they change too.  I have been sharing information about mortgages with my readers at Mortgage Porter since late 2006 – many of the programs I first wrote about may no longer exist or have probably changed with tighter underwriting guidelines. Every post I write has a “date stamp” which shows “how fresh” my content is. When I do come across an older post that may have content that is no longer relevant, I will try to post an update at the top as a reminder to readers that the information has changed…with a library of articles from five years, it’s not an easy task!  The more recently information about mortgage programs or underwriting guidelines has been published, the better your odds are that it is reliable.

Would you like a fresh rate quote?  I happy to provide you with a mortgage rate quote based on your financial scenario for homes located anywhere in Washington State, where I’m licensed to originate mortgages. Please keep in mind that as soon as I provide you the quote, the rate or pricing for that rate, may have changed…but at least you know that it’s a fresh quote.

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