U.S. mortgage rates dipped in reaction to the unexpected outcome of the Brexit vote, as the yield of the U.S. 10-year Treasury note plummeted to 1.56%, giving consumers an opportunity to take advantage of the decline.
Potential homeowners in the U.S. can take advantage of the continuation of low mortgage rates since the odds of a rate hike by the Federal Reserve are shrinking. Both the 30-year fixed and refinance rates fell to 3.73% on Friday, according to Bankrate. The 15-year fixed rate is 2.97%, which can help consumers save thousands of dollars in interest over the lifetime of the loan.
As global stock markets, currencies and commodities plunged rapidly in reaction to British voters deciding to leave the European Union, mortgage rates also dipped as uncertainty pushed them lower. The continued volatility in the markets could force prices to decline even more.
"Mortgage rates will tumble and could approach record lows," said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate, the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based financial content company. "Borrowers shouldn't wait too long to lock as this may be short-lived."
During periods of uncertainty, investors overreact to negative news such as the Brexit vote, and a large sell-off in stocks occurs, prompting more flights to safety in investments such as bonds, said Jake Loescher, a financial adviser for Savant Capital Management, a Rockford, Ill.-based wealth management firm.
"Due to this herding effect, bond purchases cause more demand for U.S. Treasuries, which can significantly lower short-, intermediate- and long-term interest rates," he said. "Although the fallout from Brexit creates enormous uncertainty, it is likely to be positive in the short-term for individuals borrowing money."
The decline in mortgage rates on Friday could just be the beginning to further dips, said Jonathan Smoke, chief economist for Realtor.com, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based real estate company.
"Based on what the bond market looks like, I would expect 30-year rates to decline by as much as 10 basis points today and test the lows in 2012," he said.
But mortgage rates are not likely to remain at these low rates and will recover in a few months, said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, a San Francisco-based real estate website.
"While the departure of the U.K. from the European Union has driven down the 10-year bond and mortgage rates, we expect them to rebound later in the year as uncertainty over the economic consequences the departure lifts."
Consumers should take advantage of this current drop in mortgage rates to consider refinancing fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgages, Loescher said.
"For a timely individual, now and the next several weeks and months is likely a good time to consider refinancing," he said.
The probability that the Fed will raise rates in 2016 is diminishing since a rate bump mandate at the December meeting remains the only "legitimate possibility," said Robert Johnson, president of the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Both the outcome of the Brexit vote and the upcoming presidential election are impeding the central bankers from raising rates, since any moves at the September or November meetings would have potential political implications.
"The Fed was being criticized for not raising rates last week," he said. "They should be applauded today. The Fed has been very data driven in formulating interest rate policy and the uncertainty around Brexit was a factor in keeping rates the same."
If data in the future demonstrates an improvement in the economy, the Fed could raise rates in December, Johnson said. The Fed considers a three-prong test for increasing interest rates: it examines indicators of a rebound in the economy, additional strengthening in employment and inflation occurring near 2%.
The Fed impact "for now is to wait and see," said Torsten Sløk, chief international economist for Deutsche Bank, a German-based investment bank, in a research note.
"With the latest Atlanta Fed GDP estimate for the second quarter at 2.8%, the bottom line is that the shock we have seen so far in markets is not enough to push the U.S. economy into a recession," he said. "That said, if growth abroad weakens and financial conditions tighten further, then the negative impact on the U.S. economy would be growing over time."
The likelihood that the Fed will raise rates in 2016 is non-existent, said Bernard Weinstein, associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas.
"Without question, in light of the Brexit vote and growing global economic uncertainty, the Fed won't raise interest rates in the foreseeable future, and mortgage rates should remain about where they are today," he said.
See full coverage of the Brexit debate here.