Mortgage rates have been steadily climbing, from a low of 4.5% around November 27, 2009 to above 5% on December 22, 2009. For the past two months I've been warning that this will eventually happen. It's not because the economy is recovering; it isn't recovering. The reason mortgage rates will rise to 6% or above, sooner rather than later is because that is the "natural" market.
About a year ago, the Federal Reserve announced a $1.25 Trillion mortgage rates subsidy, by purchasing mortgage-backed securities in the open market, through March, 2010. Right before the subsidy was announced, mortgage rates were at or above 6%. The subsidy was referred to as Bernanke's "nuclear option" meaning he was using an extraordinary monetary stimulus to keep mortgage rates artificially low.
One year and 12 months into the 15-month game, we're at $1.07 Trillion spent on this open market MBS purchase program. This means that the Fed still has about $150 Billion to spend in three months, so mortgage rates should stay around 5%, right? After all, the Fed only spent $80 billion/month and they have at least 2 months of money left.
Markets are discounting mechanisms meaning that traders anticipate how potent the Fed can be. The Fed is just about out of bullets and MBS traders know it. Let me try to give you an example of what the Fed did by recanting the explanation I gave, to a Del Mar Realtor, on the beach this summer.