Making mortgage rates predictions is a little tricky. Financial markets, including those which set share prices and mortgage interest rates, are chaotic systems. This is not to say they are chaotic in the common usage of the term, meaning something with no order to it at all, but they are chaotic in the mathematical sense, in that the formulas which describe how mortgage interest rates are determined, which are the formulas used to make mortgage rates predictions, have self-referential components.
Making mortgage interest rates predictions is like making weather predictions - it is impossible to be precisely accurate with mortgage interest rates predictions, and the further in advance you try to predict mortgage interest rates, the greater the margin of error in the prediction.
On the other hand, chaotic systems are predictable in broad terms.
If you think about predicting the weather, you may not be able to predict the top temperature for a given day in August, but you can reasonably sure it will be within a certain range - say, if you live in Orlando, between 80 and 95 degrees F, and if you live in Copenhagen, between 16 and 25 degrees C.
Just as climate gives a broad indicator of summer top temperatures, economic climate gives a broad indicator of mortgage interest rates.
Factors Which Make Mortgage Rates Rise: Inflation
So called “real interest rates", the interest rates which move in response to supply and demand in the financial markets, are independent of inflation. To get from the “real interest rate" to the “nominal interest rate", which is what your bank will charge you for your mortgage, you simply add on the annualised percentage rate of inflation.
Factors Which Make Mortgage Rates Rise: Reduced Availability Of Credit
Financial markets operate on supply and demand. If there is a limited supply of anything, then it will go to those who are willing or able to pay more for it. The same is true of mortgage money. Mortgage rates predictions will take into account whether the supply of money is increasing or decreasing, and likewise, the trends in demand for money.
Factors Which Make Mortgage Rates Predictions Rise: Increased Risk
Apart from the underlying real interest rate determined by the broader economy, the rate of inflation, and the supply of money available for mortgage lending, there is another factor which comes into play in any investment decision - risk. Mortgage rates in general will depend on the overall risk involved in the housing market.
If house values plummet, as they have in some parts of the US, then the default risk for the banks suddenly increases, which means that they will be wanting to charge higher mortgage interest rates; predictions will take this upward pressure into account.
Factors Which Make Mortgage Rates Predictions Fall: Government Intervention
The US Government is an 800-pound gorilla in the financial markets. By issuing Treasury bonds at different interest rates, the government can influence the overall market for money, and thus affect the “real" interest rate.
Mortgage rates predictions based on purely economic considerations might indicate that mortgage interest rates are due to rise, but while the political pressure is running high, and in an election year, the government will do everything in its power, however economically irresponsible in the long term, to push the interest rate rises off until after the November elections. Mortgage rates predictions must take this political distortion of the financial markets into account.
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Mark Bennett is a staff writer for MoneyTalks.com, and contributes regularly to other financial sites.