How The Secondary Mortgage Market Works

Whenever you get a mortgage, you may count on to repay your lender over the following 15 or 30 years. Nonetheless, the reality is that many banks and different lenders originate mortgages solely to promote them to different buyers.

The secondary mortgage market is very large, and lots of homebuyers aren’t conscious of it or the way it works. Regardless of this, the secondary market performs a giant position in your skill to get a mortgage and the way a lot that mortgage prices.

What’s the secondary mortgage market?

The secondary mortgage market is a market the place buyers purchase and promote mortgages packaged into bundles of many particular person loans. Mortgage lenders originate loans after which place them on the market on the secondary market. Traders who buy these loans obtain the correct to gather the cash owed.

Similar to any marketplace for securities, the worth of mortgages on the secondary market is determined by their threat and potential return. Larger-risk loans should supply larger returns, which is without doubt one of the causes that folks with decrease credit score scores pay larger rates of interest.

Major vs. secondary mortgage market

The first mortgage market is the place debtors get mortgages from lenders. For instance, should you go to a neighborhood credit score union and a few banks to get a quote for a mortgage, you’re collaborating within the main mortgage market.

The secondary mortgage market doesn’t contain debtors in any respect. As a substitute, it’s the place lenders promote loans they’ve originated to buyers.

How the secondary mortgage market works

After making a mortgage, a lender typically sells it within the secondary mortgage market, although the lender might retain the servicing rights. Many lenders promote loans to the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or different aggregators, who can repackage the loans as mortgage-backed securities, or MBS, or maintain them on their very own books and accumulate the curiosity from debtors.

To be bought to the companies, the mortgage should be “conforming” — that’s, the mortgage should meet sure requirements set by the companies. These elements embrace:

  • A most mortgage quantity of $726,200 (for 2023) in most markets, although it’s larger in others
  • The down fee relative to the mortgage’s measurement, sometimes not less than 3 p.c
  • The borrower’s credit score rating, often not less than 620 to 650
  • The borrower’s debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which ought to ideally be 36 p.c or much less

The demand for conforming loans helps push down the mortgage charges for debtors who can meet the requirements. Word that jumbo loans, that are bigger in mortgage measurement, usually are not thought of conforming loans.

Who’s concerned within the secondary mortgage market?

There are a number of events concerned within the secondary mortgage market, together with:

  • Mortgage mortgage originators (MLOs): MLOs work intently with debtors to create loans. Later, they could select to promote these loans on the secondary mortgage market.
  • Aggregators: Authorities-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), similar to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are aggregators that buy mortgages from lenders and repackage them into mortgage-backed securities to be bought on the secondary market. MLOs can also act as aggregators.
  • Traders: Traders purchase mortgage-backed securities on the secondary market. As debtors repay their loans, buyers see returns.
  • Householders: Householders aren’t instantly concerned in these transactions. Nonetheless, they’re nonetheless an essential piece of the puzzle as a result of their loans are what’s being purchased and bought on the secondary actual property market.

Why does the secondary mortgage market exist?

Congress created the secondary mortgage market in 1938 with the formation of Fannie Mae, which bought FHA mortgages. Fannie Mae supplied liquidity for originating lenders, who didn’t wish to tie up their capital for lengthy durations, and allowed them to generate extra loans. With the power to promote loans, banks may write extra mortgages and encourage homeownership.

In 1970, Congress created Freddie Mac with related objectives to Fannie Mae.

Creating a very new safety from mortgages is a posh course of, so why would the gamers concerned within the mortgage market do that? The secondary market creates advantages for every financial participant — together with debtors, buyers, banks/lenders, aggregators and score companies.

As a result of it permits lenders to slice up their mortgages, the secondary market additionally permits monetary corporations to concentrate on varied areas of the market. For instance, a financial institution might originate a mortgage however promote it within the secondary market whereas retaining the correct to service the mortgage.

As a mortgage originator, the financial institution underwrites, processes, funds and closes the mortgage. It collects charges for these providers after which might or might not maintain onto the mortgage.

As a mortgage servicer, the financial institution receives a charge for processing the month-to-month fee, monitoring mortgage balances, producing tax varieties and managing escrow accounts, amongst different features.

Even when the lender decides to originate the mortgage and maintain it, the lender advantages by having an energetic and liquid secondary market, the place it may well promote its loans or servicing rights.

Execs and cons of the secondary mortgage market

Benefits and downsides of the secondary mortgage market embrace:


  • Decrease prices: Debtors can doubtlessly profit from decrease prices due to the secondary mortgage market.
  • Traders can decide and select loans: Traders (together with institutional gamers similar to banks, pension funds and hedge funds) get publicity to particular sorts of securities that higher meet their wants and threat tolerance.
  • Retains cash shifting: Lenders can transfer sure loans off their books, whereas retaining different loans that they’d want to maintain. It additionally permits them to make use of their capital effectively, permitting them to generate charges for underwriting mortgages, promote the mortgage after which use their capital once more to put in writing a brand new mortgage.
  • Aggregators accumulate charges: Aggregators similar to Fannie and Freddie earn charges from bundling and repackaging mortgages and structuring them with sure engaging traits.


  • Can include threat: Mortgage-backed securities could be a dangerous funding. If debtors default on their loans, buyers may lose cash, and the economic system may take successful.
  • Affect on returns: Traders’ returns can be negatively affected if a borrower refinances or pays again their mortgage faster than anticipated.
  • Strict eligibility standards: GSEs have strict standards for what kinds of loans they’ll assure within the secondary market, so lenders often gained’t situation loans outdoors of those parameters. Because of this, debtors with poor credit score scores might not qualify for a mortgage, or in the event that they do, they’ll probably face larger rates of interest.

Backside line

As a result of it purchases an enormous portion of house loans, the secondary market drives a variety of the conduct within the main market, such because the banks’ want to put in writing conforming loans. Whilst you might proceed to make your month-to-month fee to the financial institution that originated your mortgage, the cash may very well be going to many various buyers who personal your mortgage or a slice of it.

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