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Published: Jan 15, 2021 5 min read
Money; Getty Images

December new home sales were more than 40% higher than in the previous year, as homebuyers took advantage of historically low mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates decreased for the second day in a row.

Today's Mortgage Rates

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.137% on Thursday — down from 3.168% a day earlier.

Mortgage Rate Chart
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.137%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.36%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.012%
30-Year VA Loan 3.037%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.816%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 14, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 700

Money's daily mortgage rates show the average rate offered by over 8,000 lenders across the United States the previous day. They reflect what a typical borrower with a 700 credit score might expect to pay for a home loan right now. The rates assume a 20% down payment and include discount points.

Freddie Mac's benchmark Primary Mortgage Market Survey put mortgage rates at 2.79% with 0.7 points paid for the week ending January 14. That's a significant jump of 0.14 percentage points compared to last week's new all-time low of 2.65%. Rates set record lows 16 times in 2020. The mortgage purchaser's weekly survey reflects borrowers who put 20% down on conforming loans and have excellent credit.

How do I get the best mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates vary from state-to-state. On Thursday, borrowers in Illinois were quoted the lowest mortgage rates — at 3.082%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.249%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.93%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.204%.

You may be able to negotiate a better interest rate if you shop around or if you have other accounts with the lender. (To get started, take a look at Money's picks for the best mortgage lenders.) Currently, some lenders are hiking up advertised rates to keep demand in check, so you may be offered a lower rate if you reach out directly.

Today's Mortgage Refinance Rates

Money's survey also shows that the offered rate for a 30-year refinance for someone with a 740 credit score was 3.23% on Thursday. In January 2020, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was around 3.8%.

Mortgage Refinance Rate Chart
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.23%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.627%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.424%
30-Year VA Loan 3.452%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.651%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 14, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 740

What else is happening in the housing market today?

Mortgage loan applications for new newly built homes were up 42% in December compared to a year earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's Builder Application Survey. Compared to November applications ticked up by a seasonally adjusted 5.9%.

"Despite the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic, households seeking more space, assisted by low mortgage rates, drove the demand for new homes higher," said Joel Kan, MBA's associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.

Based on the survey data, MBA estimates that the sale of new, single-family homes was running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 876,000 units in December. In November, sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 827,000.

On an unadjusted basis, sales were about the same for both months. The MBA estimates there were 59,000 new home sales in both November and December.

These numbers indicate that the housing market in 2020 ended on a high note. Expectations are for 2021 to keep up or exceed 2020's pace in terms of new home sales. However, for that to happen, there needs to be an improvement in inventory.

“In the coming months, we expect home building to continue to ramp-up to meet demand. Housing inventory, particularly for existing homes, is still extremely tight,” added Kan.

The Builder Application Survey tracks the number of loan applications made through mortgage subsidiaries of home builders around the country and provides an early estimate of new home sales. The official estimate of new home sales is made by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is set to release its new report next Thursday

Bottom line:

Qualifying for a Mortgage Is Surprisingly Difficult Right Now

A Key Indicator Suggests Mortgage Rates' Epic Decline May Soon End

As Prices Soar, 6 Tricks for Finding a House You Can Actually Afford

Rates are subject to change. All information provided here is accurate as of the publish date.