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Published: Dec 11, 2020 5 min read
Money; Getty Images

Home buyers are ignoring the typical winter season slowdown, even as median list prices continue to eclipse year-ago levels.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates ticked down for the fourth day in a row.

Today's Mortgage Rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase mortgage was 3.161% on Thursday. On Wednesday, the average rate was 3.169%.

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 11, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.161%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.369%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.303%
30-Year VA Loan 3.408%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.595%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 10, 2020 | Rates assume a credit score of 700

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 3.01%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.351%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.859%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.672%.

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 3.358% on Thursday. Last December, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was 3.88%.

Refinance Rates for December 11, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.358%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.657%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.814%
30-Year VA Loan 3.965%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.55%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 10, 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 $882 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 today

The median list price of homes for sale is 13.5% higher than a year ago, according to Realtor.com's latest look at weekly housing trends. It's the 17th straight week of double-digit price growth. Record-low interest rates are keeping home buyers engaged despite rising prices.

"We’re seeing demand for housing continue to grow during a time when buyers and sellers usually step away from the market for the winter,” said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. "Although it's improving, new supply remains the weakest link and thus the critical indicator to watch."

New listings were 7% lower than the same week last year. Total housing inventory, combining existing homes for sale and new listings, was down 39% year-over-year.

The severe inventory shortage coupled with high buyer demand has homes flying off the market 14 days faster than last year. While the approaching holidays could cause the market to lose some steam, it won't be the typical slowdown seen during the winter months.

"Looking ahead, the housing market continues to charge ahead and may continue straight into the spring homebuying season without ever fully slowing down, setting up for more growth in home prices and sales in 2021," said Hale.

Bottom line:

Why This Winter Should Be One of the Best Ever for Home Sales

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