Mortgage rates are hugely important to household budgets.
Lower mortgage rates free up household cash for spending and long- and short-term saving.
Higher mortgage rates, of course, do the opposite.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict the future of mortgage rates with any bit of certainty. This is because there are countless influences on mortgage markets, ranging from the obvious to the obscure.
Some obvious influences include:
- The strength of the U.S. dollar
- The rate of inflation in the U.S. economy
- The relative performance of the U.S. housing market
And some of the obscure influences include policy decisions by the Bank of Canada, or political unrest in Nigeria.
But despite the challenge of making accurate mortgage rate predictions, we shouldn’t stop looking at trends for clues. The graph at top shows one such trend.
Starting in January, as oil prices rose, mortgage rates followed them higher. Then, as oil started its descent in mid-July, mortgage rates began to fall, too.
The relationship between oil prices and mortgage rates is not one-to-one and, most likely, the similarities are there because both oil prices and mortgage rates are pegged to the ever-stronger U.S. dollar.
As the dollar gets stronger, it’s pushing oil prices and mortgage rates down, and improving household cash flow for home buyers and other people in want of a new home loan.