When the Chairman of the Federal Reserve lowers “rates,” he lowers the “Federal Funds” rate. This is the interest rate at which large banks lend funds to one another and is a “short-term” rate. Mortgage interest rates are long-term, up to 30 years. Longer-term interest rates are sensitive to expectations about inflation. When short-term rates fall, like the ones the Federal Reserve controls, borrowing and spending usually increase, which can actually cause inflation. Longer-term rates, like mortgage interest rates, can rise when concerns about inflation increase. Markets are often ahead of the Federal Reserve. Mortgage interest rates are determined every day in active public markets. If those markets believe the economy is slowing, interest rates may fall as markets anticipate that the Federal Reserve might lower short-term rates. The opposite can happen as well. Mortgage rates can rise well ahead of the Federal Reserve increasing short-term interest rates. We make sure you understand how the market can affect your decision.