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By Leslie Cook
January 7, 2021
Money; Getty Images

The supply of homes for sale hit the lowest point on record in December, as the typical winter seller slowdown ran up against higher than usual demand from buyers. Home prices continued double-digit growth, while the pace of sale remained faster than in 2019.

Meanwhile, the average mortgage rate is up.

Today's Mortgage Rates

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.109% on Wednesday — up from 2.995% on Tuesday.

Money's daily mortgage rates factor in rate quote data from over 8,000 lenders from across the United States. Our rates include discount points and represent what a borrower with a 20% down payment and a 700 credit score — roughly the national average FICO score — would have been offered.

Mortgage Rate Chart
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.109%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.323%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.031%
30-Year VA Loan 3.083%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.727%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 6, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 700

Freddie Mac's widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put mortgage rates at 2.65% with 0.7 points paid for the week ending January 7, a new record low. That's 0.02 percentage points below last week. Rates set new record lows 16 times in 2020. This is the first all-time low set in 2021. The mortgage purchaser's weekly survey reflects borrowers who put 20% down on conforming loans and have excellent credit.

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How do I get the best mortgage rates?

Mortgage rates vary from state-to-state. On Wednesday, borrowers in Illinois were quoted the lowest mortgage rates — at 3.015%. People looking for mortgages in Colorado saw the highest average rate at 3.222%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.875%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.421%.

You may be able to negotiate a better 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 3.211% on Wednesday. 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 3.211%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.592%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.466%
30-Year VA Loan 3.424%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.603%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 6, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 740

What else is happening in the housing market today?

For-sale housing inventory reached the lowest point on record in December. According to Realtor.com, the number of available homes dipped below 700,000 for the first time as home buying remained active during the holiday season. This means there were 449,000 fewer homes on the market than in December of 2019, a decrease of nearly 40%.

"The shortage of homes for sale has been an ongoing issue for the last couple of years, but in December the combination of the holiday inventory slowdown and the pandemic buying trend caused it to dip to its lowest level in history," said Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com. "Looking forward, we could see new lows in the next couple of months as buyers remain relatively active, but a surge of new COVID cases may slow the number of sellers entering the market."

Hale pointed out that new listing trends have been mixed. In November, newly listed homes on the market were down 8.7% year-over-year. In December, the shortage was just 0.8%.

"We eventually expect to see improvements in the supply of homes for sale, especially in the second half of the year. Until then, finding a home will continue to be a top challenge for buyers across all price ranges," noted Hale.

There is also a big discrepancy in terms of regional numbers. The largest metros in the West and Northeast are seeing significant gains in terms of new homes coming onto the market with inventory increases of 30.8% and 15% respectively. By comparison, the Midwest saw inventory increase by 0.2% and the South actually saw a 4% decline in inventory.

Once again, high buyer demand and low inventory combined to push prices up more than 13% higher than last December, with the median listing price coming in at $340,000. On a positive note, the median list price was down from the summer peak of $350,000.

The pace of sale continues at a fast clip. Homes sold an average of 13 days faster than last December, staying on the market for an average of 66 days. In the 50 largest metro areas surveyed, the pace was even faster, with homes staying on the market for only 56 days on average.

Mortgage Tip of the Week

Buying a home can be daunting. Follow these expert tips to make the process easier.

Jess Kennedy, co-founder of mortgage lender Beeline, on choosing the right lender:

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9 Steps to Take Now That Will Prepare You for Buying a Home in 2021

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