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Friday, March 7, 2008

The Fundamentals Of Mortgage Rates

What makes mortgage rates fluctuate? They are talked about so often that you would think this is common knowledge. But the simple truth of the matter is, most people do not even know how these rates work! Among the many entities that people think are the cause of their movement are the Fed, the economy, inflation, the President, etc., etc. The real answer is that rates are moved by a number of factors, one of them being, well, you!

The Money Tree

Money for mortgages comes from a variety of different sources. Some of it comes from banks and brokerages, but a lot of it comes from investors in the capital markets. Bonds buyers come to these markets looking for good buys. Sellers of these bonds must compete with each other to get the money of these buyers. They do this by offering varieties of the investment instrument which differ with regard to risk structures and returns over time. These products also compete with other investment instruments like U.S Treasuries, corporate bonds, foreign bonds, etc.

Investor demand moves mortgage rates. They have plenty of places to put their money. Their choices directly affect the movement of rates. In a crowded marketplace, mortgages must be considered attractive enough to invest in. Of course, it is not really as one-dimensional as it may seem. Mortgage rates are affected by any number of factors in the capital markets alone.

The Other Things

Other investments also affect mortgage rates. For example, there is a very direct relationship between mortgages and U.S. Treasuries. Another factor includes "volume" available. Unlike other investments, no one can really tell how many mortgages will be on the market at any given time. Drops in interest rates produce large buildups of loans. This means that the supply of bonds goes up in a relatively short period of time. Investors cannot absorb this at once. Oversupply with little demand devalues the investment instrument.

There are also time problems when it comes to mortgage pricing. It takes hours or days for prices changes in capital markets to get to wholesalers or retailers. Also, not all of the changes are fully reflected in street prices. Depending on the fluctuation, rates may remain static. Another example is when a minor increase in bond yields is followed by a reduction later in the day and does affect the mortgage rates at all. Inflation also plays a large role in fluctuations.

All this is an obvious oversimplification of a very deep topic. You would do well to read up some more on this. This is especially true if you are thinking of obtaining one or getting a new one. You must be armed with the right knowledge to make wise business decisions. That is the only way you will ever show a profit in the end. Wise business decisions are based on what you know. So improve what you know by reading and consulting people. In the end, your bank account will thank you for it.

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