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Originally Published: Dec 09, 2020
Originally Published: Dec 09, 2020 Last Updated: Dec 09, 2020 7 min read
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The overall volume of mortgage loan applications decreased last week despite an increase in the number of refinance applications. The third quarter, however, saw record-setting levels of loan activity for purchase and refinance loans as well as overall lending originations.

Mortgage rates ticked down for the second day in a row.

Today's Mortgage Rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase mortgage was 3.182% on Tuesday. On Monday, the average rate was 3.193%.

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 9, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.182%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.396%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.219%
30-Year VA Loan 3.376%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.607%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 8, 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 Tuesday, borrowers in Illinois were quoted the lowest mortgage rates — at 3.013%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.458%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.86%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.701%.

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 3. This is the 14th record low set so far this year and .01 percentage point below the previous low of 2.72%. 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 3.4% on Tuesday. Last December, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was 3.88%.

Refinance Rates for December 9, 2020
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.4%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.703%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.617%
30-Year VA Loan 3.761%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.552%
Source: Money | Date: Dec. 8, 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

The total number of mortgage loan applications decreased by a seasonally adjusted 1.2% for the week ending December 4, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Purchase applications were down 5% from a week earlier although they remained 22% higher than the same week last year. Refinance applications increased 2% week-over-week and were 89% higher than last year.

"The ongoing refinance wave has continued through the fall," said Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting for the MBA. "The purchase market is also poised to finish 2020 on a strong note."

Refinance loans have made up the majority share of loan applications since the housing market started to rebound from the pandemic related lockdowns in May. They currently make up 72% of all loan applications and have led to record highs in terms of lending volumes.

According to real estate analytics company Black Knight, approximately 4 million homeowners refinanced their home loans since the beginning of 2020 through the end of September. Refinance origination volumes surpassed the $2 trillion mark.

Refinance lending during the third quarter alone reached $867 billion, the highest single-quarter of refinance lending on record. Purchase loans also set a record, coming in at $455 billion, while total lending set another all-time high at $1.3 trillion. Black Knights data suggests that the fourth quarter could see origination volumes stay at or above these record levels.

"As our rate lock data suggested last month, Q3 originations hit record highs in purchase, refinance and overall lending as record-low mortgage rates and a delay to the normal spring home-buying season spurred both the purchase and refinance markets," said Ben Graboske, president of Black Knight Data & Analytics.

There are many more opportunities for homeowners to take advantage of historically low rates to save on their mortgage payments. Black Knight estimates that as of November 27 there are 19.4 million high-quality refinance candidates in the market.

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