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Published: Dec 04, 2021 11 min read
Money; Getty Images

This week, mortgage interest rates were on a rollercoaster but ultimately finished the week trending down. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage ended the week at 3.573%, down 0.132 percentage points from the start of the week. The 30-year refinance rate ended the week at 3.772%, also down from its Monday rate.

Although mortgage rates are higher than they were a month ago, they are still historically low. Borrowers with good to excellent credit can take advantage of competitive rates and affordable monthly payments to buy a home or refinance their current home loan.

  • The latest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is 3.573%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage is 2.591%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.183%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 7/1 ARM is 3.22%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.404%. ⇓

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 3.573%.
  • That's a one-day decrease of 0.03 percentage points.
  • That's a one-month increase of 0.171 percentage points.

Most borrowers choose a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage because the long payback time means the monthly payments will be relatively low and more affordable. A predictable interest rate and monthly payments that won't change over the full term of the loan are also attractive features. The drawback is that the interest rate will be higher than the rate on a similar shorter-term loan, so it's the more expensive option over time.

15-year fixed-rate mortgage rates today

  • The 15-year rate is 2.591%.
  • That's a one-day decrease of 0.027 percentage points.
  • That's a one-month increase of 0.074 percentage points.

The shorter-term of a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage has pros and cons as well. It's a plus because the debt will be paid off faster than a longer-term loan. It's a negative because it means the monthly payments will be higher than those of a 30-year loan of an equal amount. If you can afford the higher payments, however, this loan could be a good option because the interest rate is typically lower, making it a less expensive loan in the long run.

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 3.22%. ⇓
  • The latest rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.404%. ⇓

An adjustable-rate mortgage will start off with a fixed introductory rate that will become variable after a number of years. Once the rate starts to adjust, it will change in accordance with market conditions and reset periodically. For example, the rate on a 5/1 ARM will be fixed for five years, then reset annually. ARMs could be a good option if you plan to sell the home within a few years because the introductory rate is typically very low. However, once the rate starts to reset, there can be large increase which can cause the monthly payments to jump significantly.

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 3.333%. ⇓
  • The rate on a 30-year VA mortgage is 3.413%. ⇓
  • The rate on a 30-year jumbo mortgage is 3.64%. ⇑

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 3.772%. ⇓
  • The refinance rate on a 15-year fixed-rate refinance is 2.701%. ⇓
  • The refinance rate on a 5/1 ARM is 2.458%. ⇓
  • The refinance rate on a 7/1 ARM is 3.486%. ⇑
  • The refinance rate on a 10/1 ARM is 3.862%. ⇓

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 2021, but modestly. Factors that could influence rates include how quickly the COVID-19 vaccines are distributed and when lawmakers can agree on another economic relief package. More vaccinations and stimulus from the government could lead to improved economic conditions, which would boost rates.

While mortgage rates are likely to rise this year, 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 Thursday, December 2, 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.