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What in the world is going on with mortgage rates?

Today’s mortgage rates are top-of-mind for many homebuyers right now. As a result, if you’re thinking about buying for the first time or selling your current house to move into a home that better fits your needs, you may be asking yourself these two questions:


  1. Why Are Mortgage Rates So High?

  2. When Will Rates Go Back Down?


Here’s context you need to help answer those questions.


1. Why Are Mortgage Rates So High?


The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is largely influenced by the supply and demand for mortgage-backed securities (MBS). According to Investopedia:

“Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are investment products similar to bonds. Each MBS consists of a bundle of home loans and other real estate debt bought from the banks that issued them . . . The investor who buys a mortgage-backed security is essentially lending money to home buyers.”

Demand for MBS helps determine the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Historically, the average spread between the two is 1.72 (see chart below):





Last Friday morning, the mortgage rate was 6.85%. That means the spread was 3.2%, which is almost 1.5% over the norm. If the spread was at its historical average, mortgage rates would be 5.37% (3.65% 10-Year Treasury Yield + 1.72 spread).





This large spread is very unusual. As George Ratiu, Chief Economist at Keeping Current Matters (KCM), explains:

“The only times the spread approached or exceeded 300 basis points were during periods of high inflation or economic volatility, like those seen in the early 1980s or the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09."

The graph below uses historical data to help illustrate this point by showing the few times the spread has increased to 300 basis points or more:





The graph shows how the spread has come down after each peak. The good news is, that means there’s room for mortgage rates to improve today.

So, what’s causing the larger spread and making mortgage rates so high today?

The demand for MBS is heavily influenced by the risks associated with investing in them. Today, that risk is impacted by broader market conditions like inflation and fear of a potential recession, the Fed’s interest rate hikes to try to bring down inflation, headlines that create unnecessarily negative narratives about home prices, and more.

Simply put: when there’s less risk, demand for MBS is high, so mortgage rates will be lower. On the other hand, if there’s more risk with MBS, demand for MBS will be low, and we’ll see higher mortgage rates as a result. Currently, demand for MBS is low, so mortgage rates are high.


2. When Will Rates Go Back Down?


Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, answers that question in a recent blog:

“It’s reasonable to assume that the spread and, therefore, mortgage rates will retreat in the second half of the year if the Fed takes its foot off the monetary tightening pedal and provides investors with more certainty. However, it’s unlikely that the spread will return to its historical average of 170 basis points, as some risks are here to stay.”


Bottom Line


The spread will shrink when the fear investors feel is eased. That’ll mean we should see mortgage rates moderate as the year goes on. However, when it comes to forecasting mortgage rates, no one can know for sure exactly what will happen.



 

A Deeper Dive

 




 

What is the Market Doing?


 

Escambia County


Escambia

Month

Closed Sales

% Change Year Over Year

April 2023

​415

-20.5

March 2023

463

-18.1

Feb 2023

345

-22.6

Jan 2023

304

-28.0

Dec 2022

375

-31.7

Nov 2022

321

-31.1%

Oct 2022

438

-15.8%

​Sep 2022

459

-13.1

Aug 2022

518

-2.1%

Jul 2022

505

-9.8%

Jun 2022

592

-3.6%

May 2022

583

16.8%

Apr 2022

522

0.2%

Mar 2022

565

2.5%

Feb 2022

446

14.4%

Information from Florida Realtors

 

Santa Rosa County







Santa Rosa County

Month

Closed Sales

% Change Year Over Year

April 2023

331

-21.4

​March 2023

404

-12.2

Feb 2023

257

-35.8

Jan 2023

228

-27.2%

Dec 2022

330

-30.2%

Nov 2022

281

-31.3%

Oct 2022

331

-34.5%

Sep 2022

373

-20.1%

Aug 2022

427

-15.3%

Jul 2022

410

-20.1%

Jun 2022

492

-11.5%

May 2022

447

-4.1%

Apr 2022

421

-7.9%

Mar 2022

460

-0.4%

Feb 2022

400

9.6%

Information from Florida Realtors

 


Current Mortgage Rates


 







 



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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Skip Geiser LLC. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Skip Geiser LLC. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.


 

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