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Wednesday's Best Mortgage Rates: January 20

Money.com logo Money.com 1/20/2021 Leslie Cook
Mortgage-Rate-014 © Money; Getty Images Mortgage-Rate-014

The overall volume of loan applications decreased thanks to a drop in refinance requests. At the same time, the share of loans in forbearance programs also declined.

Mortgage rates ticked up slightly yesterday.

Today’s Mortgage Rates

The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.133% on Tuesday — up from 3.132% a day earlier.

Mortgage Rate Chart
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.133%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.339%
30-Year FHA Loan 2.9%
30-Year VA Loan 2.942%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.805%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 19, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 700

Money’s daily mortgage rates show the average rate offered by over 8,000 lenders across the United States the previous day. They reflect what a typical borrower with a 700 credit score might expect to pay for a home loan right now. The rates assume a 20% down payment and include discount points.

Freddie Mac’s benchmark Primary Mortgage Market Survey put mortgage rates at 2.79% with 0.7 points paid for the week ending January 14. That’s a significant jump of 0.14 percentage points compared to last week’s new all-time low of 2.65%. The mortgage purchaser’s weekly survey reflects borrowers who put 20% down on conforming loans and have excellent credit.

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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 3.082%. People looking for mortgages in Nevada saw the highest average rate at 3.196%.

Nationwide, borrowers with the highest credit scores, 740 and above, were quoted rates averaging 2.927%, while those with credit of 620 or below were shown rates of 4.165%.

You may be able to negotiate a better interest rate if you shop around or if you have other accounts with the lender. (To get started, take a look at Money’s picks for the best mortgage lenders.) 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.

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 3.208% on Tuesday. In January 2020, the average mortgage rate (including fees) was around 3.8%.

Mortgage Refinance Rate Chart
Loan type Average Rate
30-Year Fixed Loan 3.208%
15-Year Fixed Loan 2.599%
30-Year FHA Loan 3.368%
30-Year VA Loan 3.42%
30-Year Jumbo Loan 3.619%
Source: Money | Date: Jan. 19, 2021 | Rates assume a credit score of 740

What else is happening in the housing market today?

The overall volume of loan applications decreased 1.9% for the week ending January 15, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The decline was entirely in refinance applications, which were down 5% from the previous week. Purchase loan applications actually increased by 3%. Both types of loans remain above year-ago levels, with refinances 87% higher and purchases up 15%.

The decrease in applications came on the heels of an increase in mortgage rates. According to Joel Kan, associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting for the MBA, market expectations for a larger stimulus relief package from the incoming Biden-administration and a Democrat controlled Congress has pushed the 10-year Treasury yield up. Mortgage rates typically move in lockstep with the 10-year note.

“After a post-holiday surge of refinances, higher rates chipped away at demand,” said Kan.

Meanwhile, the MBA also reported that the number of home loans in forbearance programs declined for only the second time in the two months. The share of loans in the payment postponement program decreased to 5.37%, representing about 2.7 million homeowners.

There were decreases in all loan types with the largest drop — 18 basis points — among government-backed loans held by Ginnie Mae. According to Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at MBA, the rate of homeowners exiting forbearance plans has picked up over the past two weeks but remains below the steady pace seen in October and November.

Fratantoni noted that unemployment data in recent weeks has demonstrated continuing weakness in the economy, indicating that many homeowners who have not regained employment will require assistance well into this year.

“While new forbearance requests remain relatively low, the availability of relief remains a necessary support for many homeowners,” he said.

Quote of the Week

More great housing content from Money.

Anne Thompson, retail sales executive for Bank of America, on considering smaller place when looking for an affordable home:

While it may not have all the amenities of a dream home or the perfect location, a starter home that you can comfortably remain in for a few years is typically less expensive and doesn’t require as many years to save up for a down payment.”

For more read: As Prices Soar, 6 Tricks for Finding a House You Can Actually Afford.

Bottom line:

Qualifying for a Mortgage Is Surprisingly Difficult Right Now

A Key Indicator Suggests Mortgage Rates’ Epic Decline May Soon End

As Prices Soar, 6 Tricks for Finding a House You Can Actually Afford

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