10-Year Hits 16-Year High as Fed Extends Higher Rates Push
In these uncertain times, geopolitical risks rightly dominate headlines. However, the expected “flight to quality” trade, where U.S. interest rates typically decrease as investors seek the safety of government-guaranteed bonds during conflicts, has been notably absent. The primary reason appears to be that substantial government spending has overwhelmed the bond market, in addition to major foreign holders of U.S. debt becoming sellers. Currently, the private sector, including businesses, individuals, and funds, has stepped in to fill this gap. Still, without foreign support, it is likely that bond yields will not fall by much if at all.
Despite the recent poor performance of the equity market, overall economic data remains relatively strong. Retail spending data released earlier this week indicates that consumers are still spending, albeit more cautiously. Additionally, initial jobless claims came in lower than expected, which underscores an increasingly tight labor market. Even so, it is unlikely that the Fed will raise short-term interest rates at their next meeting, even though the data suggests otherwise. This is because the longer end of the yield curve is rising, with 10-year Treasuries grazing 5% before finally settling at 4.91% on Friday morning. The 10-year Treasury note rate serves as the benchmark for pricing all forms of personal, real estate, and business debt. The rapid increase in yields on this instrument is adding pressure to all types of borrowers, so the Fed may allow the market to contribute to slowing down the economy.
Loans, Rates, and Real Estate
Real estate, which is highly sensitive to interest rates, continues to face challenges. It is difficult to gauge precisely how higher rates have affected prices due to sluggish sales. However, builder sentiment is declining, and new home sales show signs of following suit, despite incentives offered by home builders such as buy-downs and free upgrades. The commercial lending markets are under significant pressure, as a 5% 10-year Treasury rate is expected to push cap rate floors to 6% or even higher. Private debt funds providing bridge loans remain active, while traditional banks are cautious on most deals. With many billions of dollars in loan resets scheduled for 2024, the commercial lending market is shaping up to be remarkably interesting.
We have said it before and will reiterate that in today’s market, independent mortgage brokers with a wide range of lending options are providing value to potential borrowers. The significant disparity in rates from one bank to another often reflects the bank’s perception of the economy, the housing market, or the local area, rather than market conditions alone. Large banks are keeping their margins healthy, except for their high-net-worth clients. Brokers are once again making a meaningful difference.