In what comes as a very important sign for the wider US economy, lower rates and yields are apparently not flowing through to mortgages in the way that many expected. One of the bright economic spots in the big market volatility recently has been the hope that much lower rates would stimulate more housing demand. Mortgages rates have actually risen by 20 bp since March 5th despite the huge fall in Treasury yields. Even since mid-February (when the market was peaking), mortgage rates have only dropped 15 bp to 3.35% for a 30-year fixed.
FINSUM: This is very important because it takes a 75 bp fall for a typical homeowner to save money on a refinancing. We are not even close to that yet, so hard to see any economic boost coming.
If you are of the opinion that rates are not going to move higher, or if just want some great yields and aren’t too worried about rates, take a look at mortgage REIT ETFs. Mortgage REITs are a special subsector of the REIT industry, and have recently become greatly more accessible because of ETFs. For instance, consider the iShares Mortgage Real Estate ETF (REM). The fund has a 30-day SEC yield of 9.36%. It is obviously rate sensitive, but even during last year’s brutal hiking cycle, it only lost 3.75%.
FINSUM: If the Fed stays put this year, which it likely will, these could be a great investment as we head into a downward rate cycle.