Table of Contents

5 min read May 29, 2023

Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS): Definition, Types, And How it Works

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) offer investors a unique opportunity to participate in the housing market by pooling together mortgage loans and generating cash flows from homeowners’ payments. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of MBS and shed light on its key features and benefits.

What are Mortgage Backed Securities?

Mortgage-backed securities are a financial instrument. It creates the bundling of numerous individual mortgage loans into a single investment. Investors purchase these securities, which represent a share in the cash flows generated by homeowners’ mortgage payments.

How Do Mortgage-Backed Securities Work?

Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are a financial instrument that benefits investors. It functions by pooling together individual mortgage loans and creating investment products based on these loans. Here’s a breakdown of how mortgage-backed securities work:

  1. Origination of Mortgage Loans: Banks, mortgage lenders, and other types of financial institutions originate mortgage loans. They issue these loans to individuals or families who want to purchase or refinance residential properties. The borrowers provide the properties as collateral for the loans.
  2. Pooling the Loans: The originating institution combines multiple individual mortgage loans into a pool. Pooled loans have similar characteristics like interest rates, maturities, and risk profiles. The pooling process allows for diversification and spreads the risk across a larger number of loans.
  3. Creation of Mortgage-Backed Securities: The pool of mortgage loans serves as collateral for the creation of mortgage-backed securities. Investment banks or financial institutions package these securities, which represent ownership interests in the underlying pool of mortgages.
  4. Cash Flows and Payments: The holders of mortgage-backed securities receive the distributed cash flows as homeowners make their monthly mortgage payments. This payment includes the principal amount and interest portions of the mortgage payments. Investors receive a proportional share of the payments in mortgage-backed securities based on their investment, as the cash flows are typically distributed on a pro-rata basis.
  5. Secondary Market Trading: Mortgage-backed securities can be bought and sold on the secondary market. This provides liquidity to investors who want to sell their MBS holdings or allows new investors to purchase MBS. The MBS prices in the secondary market fluctuate based on market conditions and changes in interest rates.

Types Of Mortgage-Backed Securities

Each type of mortgage-backed security carries its own unique characteristics and risks. Below are the different types of mortgage-backed securities:

  1. Pass-Through Securities: In this Mortgage-backed security, the investors receive a pro-rata share of the cash flows from the mortgage.
  2. Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs): Here, the MBS are divided into multiple tranches with different risks and return profiles.
  3. Stripped Mortgage-Backed Securities: MBS where the principal and interest payments are separated into different securities. It is known as principal-only (PO) and interest-only (IO) securities.
  4. Agency MBS: MBS issued or guaranteed by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  5. Non-Agency MBS: Government entities do not guarantee high credit risk MBS.
  6. Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS): MBS backed by residential mortgage loans, commonly used in the housing market.
  7. Mortgage-Backed Securities Indexes: Indexes that track the performance of MBS in the market, providing benchmarks for investors.
  8. Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits (REMICs): A special tax structure used for certain types of MBS, providing benefits to investors and issuers.
  9. Hybrid Mortgage-Backed Securities: In this, it combines different types of mortgage loans on fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, within the same pool.

The Pros And Cons Of MBS Investment

Every investment option has its advantages & disadvantages. Let’s find out the pros & cons of MBS investment:

Pros of Investing in Mortgage-Backed Securities:

  1. Regular Income: MBS provides a steady income stream through monthly cash flows generated by homeowners’ mortgage payments.
  2. Diversification: MBS offers diversification benefits by investing in a pool of mortgage loans. It spreads the risk associated with it across various borrowers and properties.
  3. Potential for Higher Yields: Lower-ranked tranches of MBS may offer higher yields to investors willing to take on additional risk.
  4. Liquidity: You can buy and sell MBS on the secondary market. It would benefit the investors with liquidity and the ability to adjust their investment positions.
  5. Government Backing: Agency MBS, backed by government-sponsored enterprises, have an implicit guarantee that reduces credit risk.

Cons of Investing in Mortgage-Backed Securities:

  1. Interest Rate Risk: Fluctuations in interest rates can impact the value of MBS. An increase in rates will decrease the prepayments, prolonging the investment’s duration.
  2. Prepayment Risk: Homeowners refinancing or selling their properties ahead of schedule can lead to early repayment of the underlying mortgage loans. This would prevent the investor’s cash flow.
  3. Complexity: The structure and various tranches of MBS can be complex. It requires investors to thoroughly understand the collateral and associated risks.
  4. Market Volatility: Market conditions, economic factors, and investor sentiments. impact MBS prices.
  5. Lack of Transparency: The underlying mortgage loans may have limited transparency, making it challenging to assess the quality and risk of the collateral.

It is important to carefully evaluate the potential risks and rewards associated with mortgage-backed securities.

Bottom Line

To sum it all up, mortgage-backed securities work by pooling together mortgage loans. Moreover, it creates securities based on these pooled loans and distributes cash flows to investors based on homeowners’ mortgage payments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Does The Federal Reserve Buy Mortgage-Backed Securities?

The Federal Reserve buys mortgage-backed securities (MBS) as part of its monetary policy tools to influence the economy.

what does MBS stand for?

MBS stands for Mortgage Backed Securities.


Save $20

On Silver & up plans

Use Coupon Code:

Need help? Call us on
(844) 448-0110