Why are investors turning to mortgage funds?

The illustration of getting your dream home with a mortgage in Canada.

The investing landscape constantly changes as new options arise and old ones decline. One notable trend is the growing popularity of mortgage funds among investors. With traditional fixed-income avenues like bonds and GICs providing lackluster returns in today’s low-interest-rate environment, investors are searching for yield and stability from alternative sources.

Mortgage funds have emerged as a compelling option, offering investors the potential for attractive returns above 6% and relative safety from real estate collateral. As investors navigate the current uncertainty, mortgage funds are gaining favor for their ability to deliver higher yields with minimized volatility. But what’s behind this shift, and why are mortgage funds gaining investor attention?


The Declining Appeal of Traditional Investments

Traditional investments like Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and high-interest savings accounts were once popular options for conservative investors looking for stable returns. However, over time the appeal of these investments has declined for several reasons:

  • Lower returns – Interest rates on GICs and savings accounts have steadily dropped over the decades. The once decent interest rates are now paltry in comparison. This makes them less attractive options.
  • Inflation eats away returns – Rising inflation has further reduced the real returns on these investments. Even though official inflation figures may seem low, the actual cost of living is rising much faster. This seriously erodes the purchasing power of money parked in low-yield investments.
  • Negative real returns – With interest rates below 3-4% and inflation higher than that, the real rate of return on traditional investments is now negative. Money invested is actually losing value in real terms.
  • Need for growth – Investors now seek alternatives that not only preserve capital but also provide better opportunities for growth to offset inflation. Traditional investments no longer make the cut.

In summary, declining interest rates coupled with rising inflation have diminished the appeal of conventional fixed-income investments like GICs and high-interest savings accounts. Investors need options that offer higher yields and growth potential.


The Shift Towards Equities and Real Estate

As interest rates dropped, investors started moving away from traditional fixed-income investments and towards equities and real estate.

  • The appeal of stocks – Equity markets offered the potential for higher returns as compared to guaranteed investments. Despite the risks, backing growing companies through stocks provided opportunities for substantial growth. This was attractive to investors seeking yields beyond what bonds and savings accounts offered.
  • Real estate’s tangible value – Investing in physical property also gained favor. Real estate provides tangible assets and can generate rental income. Amidst volatile markets, real estate’s resilience and passive income potential became appealing.
  • Bumpy Ride – While both sectors have seen impressive growth, the investing landscape has been challenging. Economic uncertainty, market volatility, and geopolitical issues have kept investors cautious.
  • Balancing rewards and risks – Investors now face the challenge of balancing the higher growth potential in equities and real estate with the risks involved. Careful strategy is required to navigate the current landscape.

As traditional low-yield investments lost their allure, investors migrated to equities and real estate for their income and growth potential. But optimizing returns requires skillful navigation of risks.


Understanding Mortgage Investment Corporations (MICs)

Mortgage Investment Corporations, or MICs, are pooled investment funds that provide loans to real estate borrowers.

  • Flexible lending – Unlike banks, MICs can lend to borrowers who may not qualify for traditional financing. This includes those with irregular income, poor credit history, or unique property types.
  • Filling a gap – By serving these non-traditional borrowers, MICs provide access to financing that might not otherwise be available. This fills an important gap in the lending market.
  • Higher interest rates – To compensate for the increased risk with non-traditional borrowers, MICs charge higher interest rates on their loans. This also drives returns for investors.
  • Bridge financing – For borrowers, MIC loans serve as temporary financing until they can qualify for cheaper loans from banks.

So, in essence, MICs provide flexible real estate financing to underserved segments, driving returns through higher interest-rate lending.


The Appeal for Investors

Mortgage funds offer investors an attractive combination of high-yield potential and relative safety.

  • Strong returns – With traditional fixed-income yields declining, mortgage funds provide the opportunity for much higher returns, often targeting 6% or more. This is far more lucrative than current rates on GICs and bonds.
  • Defensive positioning – As debt holders, investors in mortgage funds take a more protected position compared to equity holders. If property values fall, equity investors take losses first, while mortgage fund investors are more insulated due to their secured debt position.
  • Stability – In today’s uncertain economic climate, mortgage funds provide investors with a stable asset class underpinned by real estate collateral. This tangible backing offers reassurance compared to volatile equities.
  • Withstanding turbulence – The secured nature of mortgage fund investments allows them to better weather market turbulence compared to stocks and other assets. This stability is valued by investors.

With high yield potential, defensive risk positioning, and stability, mortgage funds are an increasingly attractive option for investors seeking returns along with insulation from volatility. The strengths are proving appealing in today’s uncertain times.


Risks and Considerations

While mortgage funds have inherent benefits, investors should also be aware of potential risks:

  • Property type and value – The type of property securing the loan and its value in relation to the loan amount (loan-to-value ratio) impact risk levels. Commercial properties may have different risk profiles than residential.
  • Borrower’s financial health – The reliability and creditworthiness of borrowers are key. Defaults could impede the fund’s ability to recoup capital and interest. Assessing borrowers is crucial.
  • The expertise of fund managers – An experienced, skilled management team is vital. Their capabilities in risk assessment, borrower vetting, and prudent lending decisions can greatly influence returns. Seasoned professionals with proven track records are ideal.

While mortgage funds offer stability and high yields, investors must also evaluate risks tied to property values, borrower profiles, and fund management expertise. Making informed decisions is key to optimizing risk-adjusted returns.



As traditional fixed-income instruments struggle in today’s low-interest-rate environment, investors are migrating to alternatives like mortgage funds to achieve the growth and stability they seek. Mortgage funds offer more attractive yields, often over 6%, along with the backing of real estate collateral. This provides a reasonably defensive strategy amid volatile markets compared to equities.

However, mortgage funds still carry risks tied to factors like property values, borrower profiles, and fund management expertise. Prudent investors who research these dynamics and diversify across mortgage funds can benefit from their high-income potential and resilience. For those willing to learn the intricacies, mortgage funds have emerged as a compelling fixture in the evolving investment landscape, offering yields and stability that are elusive with traditional avenues.

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