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The Main Reason Mortgage Rates Are So High

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.


Scott Sweeney Realtor - M&M Real Estate Cell: Call/Text 707-330-2324 Office: Call/Text 916-245-3060 Schedule a call or zoom with us here! 👇



About Scott Sweeney Scott Sweeney is a top 5% producing Elk Grove Realtor who services the greater Sacramento & Solano county areas. He has been the top producer for the last 6 consecutive years at M&M Real Estate, and his association has recognized his success and inducted him into the Sacramento Association Of Realtors Masters Club in 2019. Scott has over 15 years working in the real estate industry all of which at M&M Real Estate; a locally owned and operated real estate office in Elk Grove, Ca. Scott has a Bachelor Of Science in Business Administration, with a concentration in Marketing from CSUS. His education, and extensive background in the hospitality, marketing, and real estate industries, have helped Scott to become one of the leading, and most sought-after agents in the area. Scott puts his clients first and is known for taking an educational approach with his clients so they understand every step and strategy of the home buying and selling process. Reach out to Scott Sweeney & SweeneySells today to take the first step towards your real estate goals! Read Scott's Reviews Here Contact Information: Scott Sweeney Realtor - M&M Real Estate BRE Lic# 01938720

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