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Published: Dec 15, 2021 10 min read
Money; Getty Images

Interest rates are lower today. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate purchase loan slid to 3.607% while the rate for a 30-year refinance ticked down to 3.797%. While most loan types saw rates move lower, the rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage increased to 2.604% for purchase loans and 2.719% for refinances.

Borrowers with good to excellent credit should be able to qualify for an attractive rate and monthly payments for either a mortgage refinance or a new home loan.

  • The latest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.607%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.604%. ⇑
  • The latest rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.183%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 7/1 ARM is 3.342%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.4%. ⇓

Money's daily mortgage rates reflect what a borrower with a 20% down payment and a 700 credit score — roughly the national average score — might pay if he or she applied for a home loan right now. Each day's rates are based on the average rate 8,000 lenders offered to applicants the previous business day. Freddie Mac's weekly rates will generally be lower, since they measure rates offered to borrowers with higher credit scores.

30-year fixed-rate mortgage rates today

  • The 30-year rate is 3.607%.
  • That's a one-day decrease of 0.019 percentage points.
  • That's a one-month increase of 0.046 percentage points.

The long pay-off time makes the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage the most popular home loan option among borrowers. The monthly payments will be lower and more affordable than those of a short-term loan. The loan's steady interest rate and constant monthly payments are also popular features. The potential downside is that the interest rate is typically higher than on a shorter-term mortgage, so you'll pay more for the loan over time.

15-year fixed-rate mortgage rates today

  • The 15-year rate is 2.604%.
  • That's a one-day increase of 0.013 percentage points.
  • That's a one-month decrease of 0.026 percentage points.

A 15-year mortgage will be paid off faster and usually has a lower interest rate compared to a similar 30-year loan, making it the less expensive option over the full term of the loan. The disadvantage is that the monthly payments will be higher, so this may not be a practical option for some borrowers.

Adjustable-rate mortgage rates today

  • The latest rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.183%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 7/1 ARM is 3.342%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.4%. ⇓

Adjustable-rate mortgages are an option for buyers who don't plan on keeping the home for the full term of the loan. The interest rate on ARM's will start out low and be fixed for a set number of years before it starts adjusting to market conditions, resetting periodically. The rate on a 5/1 ARM, for example, will be fixed for five years and then reset annually. The potential downside is that once the rate starts to reset, there can be a significant jump.

Current mortgage rates: VA, FHA and jumbo loan rates

The average rates for FHA, VA and jumbo loans are:

  • The rate on a 30-year FHA mortgage is 3.366%. ⇓
  • The rate on a 30-year VA mortgage is 3.447%. ⇓
  • The rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 3.574%. ⇓

Current mortgage refinance rates

The average refinance rates for 30-year loans, 15-year loans and ARMs are:

  • The refinance rate on a 30-year fixed-rate refinance is 3.797%. ⇓
  • The refinance rate on a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.719%. ⇑
  • The refinance rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.46%. ⇓
  • The refinance rate on a 7/1 ARM is 3.197%. ⇑
  • The refinance rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.918%. ⇓

Where are mortgage rates heading this year?

Mortgage rates sank through 2020. Millions of homeowners responded to low mortgage rates by refinancing existing loans and taking out new ones. Many people bought homes they may not have been able to afford if rates were higher.

In January 2021, rates briefly dropped to the lowest levels on record, but trended higher through the month and into February.

Looking ahead, experts believe interest rates will rise more in 2022, but modestly. Factors that could influence rates include continued economic improvement and more gains in the labor market. The Federal Reserve has also begun tapering its purchase of mortgage-backed securities and is considering raising the federal funds rate sometime in 2022 to combat rising inflation.

While mortgage rates are likely to rise, experts say the increase won’t happen overnight and it won’t be a dramatic jump. Rates should stay near historically low levels through the first half of the year, rising slightly later in the year. Even with rising rates, it will still be a favorable time to finance a new home or refinance a mortgage.

Factors that influence mortgage rates include:

  • The Federal Reserve. The Fed took swift action when the pandemic hit the United States in March of 2020. The Fed announced plans to keep money moving through the economy by dropping the short-term Federal Fund interest rate to between 0% and 0.25%, which is as low as they go. The central bank also pledged to buy mortgage-backed securities and treasuries, propping up the housing finance market but began cutting back those purchases in November.
  • The 10-year Treasury note. Mortgage rates move in lockstep with the yields on the government’s 10-year Treasury note. Yields dropped below 1% for the first time in March 2020 and have been rising since then. On average, there is typically a 1.8 point “spread” between Treasury yields and benchmark mortgage rates.
  • The broader economy. Unemployment rates and changes in gross domestic product are important indicators of the overall health of the economy. When employment and GDP growth are low, it means the economy is weak, which can push interest rates down. Thanks to the pandemic, unemployment levels reached all-time highs early last year and have not yet recovered. GDP also took a hit, and while it has bounced back somewhat, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Tips for getting the lowest mortgage rate possible

There is no universal mortgage rate that all borrowers receive. Qualifying for the lowest mortgage rates takes a little bit of work and will depend on both personal financial factors and market conditions.

Check your credit score and credit report. Errors or other red flags may be dragging your credit score down. Borrowers with the highest credit scores are the ones who will get the best rates, so checking your credit report before you start the house-hunting process is key. Taking steps to fix errors will help you raise your score. If you have high credit card balances, paying them down can also provide a quick boost.

Save up money for a sizeable down payment. This will lower your loan-to-value ratio, which means how much of the home’s price the lender has to finance. A lower LTV usually translates to a lower mortgage rate. Lenders also like to see money that has been saved in an account for at least 60 days. It tells the lender you have the money to finance the home purchase.

Shop around for the best rate. Don’t settle for the first interest rate that a lender offers you. Check with at least three different lenders to see who offers the lowest interest. Also consider different types of lenders, such as credit unions and online lenders in addition to traditional banks.

Also. take time to find out about different loan types. While the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most common type of mortgage, consider a shorter-term loan like a 15-year loan or an adjustable-rate mortgage. These types of loans often come with a lower rate than a conventional 30-year mortgage. Compare the costs of all to see which one best fits your needs and financial situation. Government loans — such as those backed by the Federal Housing Authority, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Agriculture — can be more affordable options for those who qualify.

Finally, lock in your rate. Locking your rate once you’ve found the right rate, loan product and lender will help guarantee your mortgage rate won’t increase before you close on the loan.

Our mortgage rate methodology

Money’s daily mortgage rates show the average rate offered by over 8,000 lenders across the United States the most recent business day rates are available for. Today, we are showing rates for Tuesday, December 14, 2021. Our rates reflect what a typical borrower with a 700 credit score might expect to pay for a home loan right now. These rates were offered to people putting 20% down and include discount points.

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