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Today's Mortgage Rates -- December 17, 2020: Most Rates Drop

By Maurie Backman - Dec 17, 2020 at 9:36AM

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Take a look at today's mortgage rates. Should you lock in a home loan?

Hand typing on calculator next to small model home on a desk with Today's Mortgage Rates graphic.

Image source: Getty Images.

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Mortgage rates remain competitive and several have dropped since yesterday. This is what rates look like today:

Mortgage Type

Today's Interest Rate

30-year fixed mortgage

2.775%

20-year fixed mortgage

2.609%

15-year fixed mortgage

2.256%

5/1 ARM

3.192%

Data source: The Ascent's national mortgage interest rate tracking.

30-year mortgage rates

The average 30-year mortgage rate today is 2.775%, down 0.004% from yesterday. At today's rate, you'll pay principal and interest of $409.41 for every $100,000 you borrow. That doesn't include added expenses like property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums.

Check out The Ascent's mortgage calculator to see what your monthly payment might be and how much your loan will ultimately cost. Also learn how much money you'd save by snagging a lower interest rate, making a larger down payment, or choosing a shorter loan term.

20-year mortgage rates

The average 20-year mortgage rate today is 2.609%, up 0.006% from yesterday. At today's rate, you'll pay principal and interest of $534.98 for every $100,000 you borrow. Though your monthly payment will go up by $125.57 with a 20-year, $100,000 loan versus a 30-year loan of the same amount, you'll save $18,989.55 in interest over the course of your repayment period for every $100,000 you borrow.

15-year mortgage rates

The average 15-year mortgage rate today is 2.256%, down 0.002% from yesterday. At today's rate, you'll pay principal and interest of $655.36 for every $100,000 you borrow. Compared to the 30-year loan, your monthly payment will be $245.95 higher per $100,000 in mortgage principal. Your interest savings, however, will amount to $29,420.31 over the life of your repayment period per $100,000 of mortgage debt.

5/1 ARMs

The average 5/1 ARM rate is 3.192%, down 0.018% from yesterday. With a 5/1 ARM, you lock in the same interest rate on your mortgage for five years, but beyond that point, your rate adjusts once annually. It could go up, but it could also go down. A 5/1 ARM generally makes sense when you can snag a discounted rate for that initial five-year period. But since you'll get a lower rate today with a fixed loan, that's a better choice.

Should I lock in my mortgage rate now?

A mortgage rate lock guarantees you a specific interest rate for a certain period of time -- usually 30 days, but you may be able to secure your rate for up to 60 days. You'll generally pay a fee to lock in your mortgage rate, but that way, you're protected if rates climb between now and when you close on your home loan.

If you plan to close on your home within the next 30 days, then it pays to lock in your mortgage rate based on today's rates -- especially since they're still really low. But if your closing is more than 30 days away, you may want to choose a floating rate lock instead for what will usually be a higher fee, but one that could save you money in the long run. A floating rate lock lets you secure a lower rate on your loan if rates fall before you close on your mortgage, and while today's rates are still quite competitive, we don't know if rates will go up or down over the next few months. As such, it pays to:

  • LOCK if closing in 7 days
  • LOCK if closing in 15 days
  • LOCK if closing in 30 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 45 days
  • FLOAT if closing in 60 days

If you're ready to get a mortgage, spend a week or two applying with different lenders. Each lender sets its own rates and decides which candidates are eligible for its top offers. Also, pay attention to closing costs when making your decision. It could be that one lender offers a lower rate but much higher fees to finalize your loan, so you'll need to take those into account as well. 

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