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Published: Oct 16, 2020 5 min read

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase mortgage was 3.482% on Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year refinance was 4.4%.

Money's current mortgage rates include data from over 8,000 lenders across the United States and are updated daily. The rates include points and represent what a borrower with a 20% down payment and 700 credit scores — roughly the national average FICO score — would have been quoted.

30-year fixed-rate purchase mortgage
Rate of October 15, 2020

Mortgage rates vary from state to state. On Thursday, borrowers in Kentucky were quoted the lowest mortgage rates — at 3.299%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.833%. Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 3.002%, while those with credit of 640 or below were shown rates of 4.75% — a 1.748 percentage-point spread.

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

Freddie Mac's widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put rates at 2.81% with 0.6 points paid for the week ending October 15, a new record low. The mortgage purchaser's weekly survey reflects borrowers who put 20% down on conforming loans and have excellent credit.

Refinance rates today

Money's survey also shows that the offered rate for a 30-year refinance for someone with a 740 credit score was 3.729% on Thursday. Last October, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was 3.859%.

30-year fixed-rate mortgage refi
Rate of October 15, 2020

A homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage balance currently paying 3.859% on a 30-year could potentially cut their monthly payment from $939 to $927 by financing at the current lower rates. To determine if it's worth it to refinance your mortgage, also consider the closing fees you paid on your current mortgage, how much your new lender is charging and how long you have left on your loan term. (Our picks for the best lenders for refinancing are here).

What else is happening in the housing market right now?

Mortgage applications for newly-built single-family homes were up 38% year-over-year in September, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Sales were estimated to be at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 869,000 units.

Despite the year-over-year increase, sales in September were 0.2% below August numbers, when there was a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 871,000 newly-built homes were sold. On a monthly basis, the MBA estimated that 67,000 new homes were sold last month, down from 68,000 homes sold in August.

"Demand for newly-built homes is strong, as many buyers appear to seek more space for work, in-home schooling, and leisure," said Joel Kan, the MBA's senior vice president of economic and industry forecasting. "However, the moderation in the seasonally adjusted sales pace the last two months could mean that demand has slowed recently — likely because of tight inventory conditions and the slowing improvement in the job market."

In fact, the demand for newly built housing is so strong that home sales are outpacing single-family construction starts by the widest margin in history, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Compared to a year ago, home builders are selling 69% more homes that haven't been started yet.

The housing inventory remains constricted. There is a very lean 3.3-month supply of newly-built homes on the market, while the supply of existing homes is at a 2.8-month level. In order for supply to catch up with demand, one of two things will need to happen; either the demand for newly-built homes starts to die down or the pace of construction needs to increase dramatically.

Bottom line:

The Home Buyer's Dilemma: As Mortgage Rates Fall, House Prices Soar out of Reach

The Overlooked Reason It’s so Hard to Buy a Home in 2020

Bidding Wars Are Back. Here’s How to Win Your Dream Home


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