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By Leslie Cook
December 10, 2020
Money; Getty Images

Homeowners gained a record amount of home equity during the third quarter thanks to increasing home prices. Some homeowners who were underwater were able to regain equity in their homes.

Mortgage rates dropped once again from yesterday’s rates.

Today’s Mortgage Rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase mortgage was 3.169% on Wednesday. On Tuesday, the average rate was 3.182%.

Money’s mortgage rates include data from over 8,000 lenders across the United States and are updated daily. These rates include discount 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.

Mortgage Rates for December 10, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.169%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.304%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.223%
30-Year VA Loan 3.366%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.642%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 9, 2020 | Rates assume a credit score of 700
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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 3.01%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.463%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.861%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.663%.

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 lenders 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 2.71% with 0.7 points paid for the week ending December 10. Rates remained unchanged from last week’s new record low. The mortgage purchaser’s weekly survey reflects borrowers who put 20% down on conforming loans and have excellent credit.

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 3.398% on Wednesday. Last December, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was 3.88%.

Refinance Rates for December 10, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.398%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.684%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.645%
30-Year VA Loan 3.797%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.56%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 9, 2020 | Rates assume a credit score of 740

A homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage balance currently paying 3.88% on a 30-year could potentially cut their monthly payment from about $940 to about $887 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).

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What else is happening in the housing market today

Homeowners gained a collective $1 trillion in equity between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, according to a report from real estate analytics company CoreLogic. Home equity increased by nearly 11% year-over-year for an average gain of $17,000 per homeowner. It is the largest average yearly gain since the first quarter of 2014.

“Over the past year, strong home price growth has created a record level of home equity for homeowners,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “The average family with a home mortgage loan had $194,000 in home equity in the third quarter. This provides an important buffer to protect families if they experience financial difficulties, and is one reason for the generational-low in foreclosure rates reported in September.”

The record increase in equity is good news for homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage as well. During the third quarter, the number of underwater mortgages — when the owner owes more on the mortgage than the home is currently worth — dropped by nearly 7%. That’s decrease from 2 million to 1.6 million homes.

In the third quarter of 2019, the aggregate value of underwater mortgages was $304.7 billion. During the same quarter this year, the aggregate value decreased by over $21 billion to $285.5 billion.

“The housing market has remained a strong pillar in an otherwise tumultuous economic year,” said Frank Martell, CEO of CoreLogic. “A sharp rise in demand, spurred by record-low interest rates, continues to bolster homeowner equity.”

There are still homeowners at risk of losing the equity they do have in their homes. CoreLogic estimates that if home prices fall by 5% another 337,000 homeowners will go underwater. However, if prices rise by 5%, 247,000 will regain equity.

Mortgage Tip of the Week

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

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