Mortgage Rates are Rising
On January 9th I published Are mortgage rates about to rise? which started with:
“Following the Georgia Senate election results, which gave control of the Senate to the Democrats, along with the House of Representatives and the White House, the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note (10T) – the most sensitive to increased Government spending – jumped from 0.93% on Monday to 1.13% on Friday, based upon the expectation that increased Government spending would lead to more borrowing which would need higher interest rates to attract investors.”
Since then the yield on 10T has climbed further, spending this week around the $1.30 level before closing yesterday at $1.34.
Why does this matter for mortgage rates? Because the rate on the 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage (FRM) is based upon an extra yield – spread – that investors require over that available on 10T. The national average reported on Thursday ( based on rates from Monday-Wednesday) was 2.81%, up from the record low of 2.65% in January, and indications are that the rate will rise again next week.
Here are three charts:
The FRM since the beginning of 2020:
The 10T yield:
And the Spread between the two (this chart starts in 2005):
For most of the last 15 years the spread has been in the 1.6-1.8% range. The major exceptions have occurred during times of financial stress – in the Great Recession of 2008 and in the pandemic of 2020. But when the stress diminishes, the spread returns to its normal range.
I strongly recommend the weekly Market Trends from HSH.com (click HSH.com to subscribe) for really good commentary on the economy and mortgage markets. In this week’s newsletter they write: “As the economy continues to slowly recover from pandemic-interrupted activity, the process is sure to be an uneven one. However, if there’s an accumulation of solid news in a short period, it would be sufficient to lift interest rates a little bit, expanding the distance from previous record lows. In general, that’s what happened this week, and will be the proximate cause of another bump in mortgage rates next week.
To be sure, interest rates can only rise so far at a time when millions remain out of work, the economy hasn’t yet filled in the output gap caused my pandemic-related interruptions in economic activity and the Fed remains steadfastly committed to low-rate and extraordinary monetary policies. But market-engineered interest rates can still move upward, since these rely on investor perspectives about future levels of growth, inflation and hedges against whenever the Fed may start to trim bond buys and consider raising interest rates.”
For the last year the Federal Reserve has been pouring vast amounts of cash into the monetary system, action that has both driven short-term rates down sharply and contributed to a rise in asset prices as seen in a booming stock market. In recent weeks, the market chatter has been more about when interest rates will rise rather than if. And market expectations can be self-fulfilling.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) published its forecast for mortgage rates this week. While the MBA has a track record of forecasting rising mortgage rates, it is worth noting that the latest forecasts are for the FRM to reach 3.4% by the end of 2021, 3.9% in 2020 and 4.4% in 2023.
While I applaud the bravery of anybody who attempts to make long-range forecasts, I pay little attention to them. HSH, however, has also forecast that the FRM could reach as high as 3.44% this year.
I will conclude as I usually do with this one chart, perhaps the most important one in this article. By any historical standard mortgage rates are extremely attractive. And 15-year mortgages the most attractive of all for those who can afford the higher monthly payment.
Market Analyst | Team Harborside | teamharborside.com
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