(Bloomberg) -- Mortgage rates are skyrocketing in the U.S., just not so much for the rich.

The average for a 30-year fixed jumbo mortgage was 4.48% last week, compared with 4.95% for a conventional loan, the widest advantage for high-end borrowers in data from Bankrate.com going back to 1998. That’s a reversal from early in the pandemic, when jumbo rates were about half a percentage point higher than costs for smaller mortgages.

Jumbo loans are above the conforming limit of $647,200 in most areas and above $970,800 in expensive markets like San Francisco and New York City. 

The pandemic has sent rates on a roller coaster ride -- at first making loans for pricier homes more expensive when mortgage markets froze after Covid lockdowns, and now turning them into a relative bargain. Unlike conventional loans, jumbo mortgages are not as tied to the ups and downs of the secondary market because lenders typically keep them on their books and use them to attract wealthy customers and sell them on other services.  

Big mortgages are becoming more important, especially in expensive areas of the country where $1 million is little more than the price of entry.

“If there’s a silver lining for homebuyers that find themselves taking bigger loans as home prices have soared, it’s that jumbo mortgage rates are actually lower,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “It’s another indication of the uniqueness of this mortgage market.” 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.