How Bond Yields Affect Mortgage Rates


In the world of finance, bond yields and mortgage rates are tightly linked. Understanding this relationship is crucial for anyone involved in the housing market, including homeowners, potential home buyers, and mortgage brokers like Ltd.

The Basics: Bonds and Mortgage Rates

Bonds are a type of investment where the investor lends money to an entity, typically a government or corporation, which borrows the funds for a defined period at a fixed interest rate. When bond yields (the return an investor realizes on that bond) rise, mortgage rates often follow suit.

Mortgage rates are the interest rates assigned to a home loan or a mortgage. While various factors can influence these rates, one of the key drivers is the yield on government bonds, particularly in Canada, the five-year Government of Canada bond.

The Connection Between Bond Yields and Mortgage Rates

The connection between bond yields and mortgage rates stems from the basic business model of banks and other lending institutions. Banks borrow funds at one rate and lend them out at a higher rate, pocketing the difference as profit.

When the yield on government bonds increases, the cost of borrowing rises for banks. To maintain their profit margins, banks pass these costs onto consumers in the form of higher mortgage rates. When bond yields are low, it might be a good time for borrowers to consider locking in a mortgage rate.

Understanding Bond Yields

A bond yield is the return that an investor earns on a bond investment. It is expressed as a percentage of the bond’s face value and is calculated by dividing the annual interest payment by the bond’s price. For example, if a bond has a face value of $100 and pays an annual interest payment of $5, its yield would be 5%. The price of a bond has an inverse relationship to the yield. If the yield that investors demanded to purchase the bond increases from 5% to, say, 5.5% the price on the bond would decline to below $100. Likewise, if the yield investors demanded to invest in the bond declined, the price of the bond would increase.

Why Bond Yields Affect Mortgage Rates

For a lender to issue a mortgage, they must get the money from somewhere. Banks raise money from customer deposits, the capital markets, and other funding facilities. Non-deposit taking institutions can’t raise deposits, so they depend on the capital markets and banks for their funding. The mortgage lender then uses this borrowed money to fund the mortgage. They make a profit by charging the borrower a higher interest rate than the rate at which they borrowed the money.

To determine the interest rate on a mortgage, lenders will often look to bond yields as a benchmark. This is because bond yields represent the cost of borrowing money for a set period of time and can provide a good indication of the market’s expectations for future interest rates.

What Influences the Mortgage Spread Over Bond Yields?

The mortgage spread is the difference between the mortgage interest rate and the bond yield. This spread can change over time and is influenced by a number of factors, including the general state of the economy, the level of risk associated with the type of mortgage, the level of competition among lenders, the lender’s funding costs, and the lender’s required profit margin. For example, the difference in pricing between an Alt or B-mortgage and a prime mortgage is the extra risk premium a lender charges to compensate for risk.

Economic Factors Influencing Bond Yields

Bond yields can be influenced by a variety of economic factors, including inflation expectations and economic growth. If investors expect inflation to be high in the future, they may demand higher yields to compensate for the erosion of purchasing power. Strong economic growth can lead to higher demand for credit, which can push up bond yields.

The Relationship Between Bonds and Mortgages

To understand the relationship between bonds and mortgages, it is important to know that bonds are risk-free investments and mortgages are risky investments. A risk premium is typically added to mortgage rates above bond yields to make up for that risk, which is a way to compensate investors for the added risks they take. Since five-year fixed mortgages have the same maturity as five-year bonds, investors can either invest in mortgages, which have added risks in several different ways, or invest in the five-year bond and get a safe return. Mortgages carry prepayment risk, when a homeowner repays the mortgage early, and default risk, when a homeowner fails to make payments. If a mortgage is repaid early, there are prepayment penalties.


In conclusion, bond yields play a significant role in determining mortgage rates. As bond yields fluctuate, so too will the advice that Ltd. provides to its clients, demonstrating the dynamic nature of the mortgage industry. By understanding the relationship between bond yields and mortgage rates, Ltd. can better serve its clients, helping them understand how these rates might impact their mortgage payments and overall financial situation, so they can make informed decisions about their mortgage options.

Please note that this is a simplified explanation. The relationship between bond yields and mortgage rates is influenced by various other factors, including the overall state of the economy, inflation rates, and monetary policy decisions. As always, it’s recommended to seek professional advice when making decisions about mortgages. This ensures that the unique needs and circumstances of each individual are taken into account. Reach out to us at (519) 252-9665 with any questions regarding mortgages.

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