What happens to mortgage rates during a recession?

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During a recession, many aspects of the economy are affected, including mortgage rates. Homeowners and potential buyers often wonder what happens to mortgage rates during these challenging times. In this article, we will explore the relationship between recessions and mortgage rates, providing a comprehensive understanding of how they are impacted.

The Relationship Between Recessions and Mortgage Rates

Overview: Mortgage rates are influenced by a variety of factors, including economic conditions, inflation, and the policies of central banks. During a recession, the overall economic environment becomes uncertain, leading to changes in mortgage rates.

Interest Rates and Recessions: Recessions are typically accompanied by a decrease in interest rates. Central banks often implement monetary policies aimed at stimulating economic growth during downturns. These policies may include lowering interest rates to encourage borrowing and investment. As a result, mortgage rates tend to decrease during recessions.

Supply and Demand: During a recession, the demand for mortgages may decline as potential buyers become more cautious about making significant financial commitments. This decrease in demand can put downward pressure on mortgage rates. Lenders may also become more cautious and tighten their lending standards, further impacting the supply of mortgages. These factors combined can contribute to lower mortgage rates during a recession.

Government Intervention: Governments may implement measures to stabilize the housing market during a recession. For example, they may introduce programs to assist struggling homeowners, such as mortgage forbearance or refinancing options. These initiatives can help reduce the number of foreclosures and provide stability to the housing market, indirectly influencing mortgage rates.

Impact on Existing Mortgages

Fixed-Rate Mortgages: If you already have a fixed-rate mortgage, the recession is unlikely to directly affect your interest rate. Fixed-rate mortgages have a set interest rate for the duration of the loan, providing stability and predictability. However, during a recession, you may still benefit from refinancing your mortgage if interest rates have significantly decreased.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages: For those with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), the impact of a recession can be more significant. ARMs typically have an initial fixed-rate period, after which the interest rate adjusts periodically based on market conditions. If a recession leads to lower interest rates, the adjustment period may result in a decrease in your mortgage rate. However, it’s important to note that the opposite can also occur, and your rate could increase if market conditions change.


In conclusion, mortgage rates are influenced by various factors during a recession. Generally, recessions tend to lead to lower mortgage rates due to decreased demand, government intervention, and central bank policies aimed at stimulating the economy. However, the impact on existing mortgages may vary depending on whether they are fixed-rate or adjustable-rate. It’s essential to stay informed about market conditions and consider refinancing options if rates significantly decrease.


– Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: research.stlouisfed.org
– U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: hud.gov
– Freddie Mac: freddiemac.com