Ever wonder how lender’s come up with the rates they do? You can stop wondering, cause I’m going to tell you how. We all answer to a higher mortgage rate power, namely the secondary market. The secondary market is where Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and other mortgage lenders ply their trade. These government founded agencies purchase the loans that lenders make, then either hold them in their portfolios, or bundle them with other loans into mortgage-backed securities. Those securities are then sold to mutual funds, Wall Street firms, and other financial investors who trade them the same way they trade other securities and bonds.

As a result investors, rather than mortgage brokers and bankers, are in control of the rates. When economic news suggests the economy is heating up, investors demand higher yields from the lenders. This happens because they don’t want to buy low yield bonds now, in case the Fed raises rates to cool the economy, which would mean they will make higher yield bonds later. The only way that lenders can get their loans sold in this situation is to raise the yields they offer investors. In turn, this drives the rates higher for consumers.

The same thing happens in reverse when it looks like the economy is cooling. Investors start clamoring for bonds, because they figure the Fed will have to cut interest rates in the future in order to get the economy going moving along again. If the investors wait, they’ll end up with lower yielding bonds. Since investor demands are so strong, lenders who control loan supply can offer lower yields. The result is a lower rate for consumers.

To get the best rates out there, consumers really need to pay attention to financial news. Consulting with a mortgage lender or broker can also be very helpful. In most cases, the mortgage broker will be very knowledgeable and up to date on the economy.

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