With the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision to increase the Federal Funds Rate last week, the prospect of higher mortgage rates remains top of mind among real estate professionals and continues to generate headlines. Yet, changes to the short-term rate matter little to the housing market.
At the May Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting last week, all eyes were on the 10-year Treasury yield. In late April, that yield topped 3 percent for the first time in more than four years. With yields on the rise, housing market participants expect this to mean higher interest rates from central banks. It’s often overlooked that the popular 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is benchmarked to the 10-year Treasury bond. In fact, as shown in the chart below, since the end of the recession, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has on average remained 1.7 percentage points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield. So, if that trend remains consistent, if the 10-year Treasury yield rises above 3 percent, then the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate should also rise to 4.5 percent.
“The recent increase in the 10-year Treasury yield indicates higher mortgage rates are likely in the very near future. But, even as mortgage rates increase, we remain well below the historical average of about 8 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage – and house-buying power remains strong.”
As the March Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting approaches, overall positive economic conditions are troubling those who follow the Fed closely. Many might pose the question, why would positive economic conditions be troubling?
Whether you plan to buy a modest studio or a four-bedroom penthouse, how much you can afford to borrow primarily rests on two main factors: income and interest rates. Income growth seems to be increasing, thus increasing affordability. However, the near certainty of future rate hikes will likely be a drag on affordability.
It’s a near certainty that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will raise the short-term Federal Funds rate this week. The CME group estimates the probability of a 25 basis-point increase at 90.2 percent. Some may fret about how this will impact the housing market, but they are missing the point on mortgage rates and affordability for first-time home buyers.
Last week, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met for the second to last time this year. As most prognosticators expected, the FOMC decided to leave the short-term Federal Funds rate unchanged. While good news for those with credit card debt, car loans and adjustable rate mortgages, the impact of FOMC inaction, or action for that matter, is less clear for the mortgage market. Additionally, Jerome Powell was nominated to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve and he is widely believed to hold a similar stance on monetary policy as the current chair, Janet Yellen.
This month, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will consider again whether to increase the benchmark Federal Funds Rate for a third time this year. As I stated when the FOMC was contemplating a rate increase earlier this year, increasing the short-term Federal Funds rate has little impact on longer term rates like the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. But, more importantly, the FOMC may start reducing its $4.5 trillion portfolio of bonds purchased during the global financial crisis through various rounds of quantitative easing (QE). Almost 40 percent of that portfolio is mortgage backed securities (MBS) that the Fed started buying in 2009. As explained by the FOMC in June, the “Quantitative Un-Easing” plan, could begin at any point this year with the reduction of $4 billion a month in MBS. The pace of MBS sales would increase by $4 billion each quarter up to a maximum of $20 billion per month.
With the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting to decide whether to increase the Federal Funds rate in just a few days, the potential for an increase in mortgage rates dominates the housing news and industry chatter. Yet, changes to the short-term rate matter little to the housing market.
We invite you to browse the fourth quarter 2016 First American Real Estate Sentiment Index, which is based on a quarterly survey of independent title agents and other real estate professionals, providing a unique gauge on the real estate market using the crowd-sourced wisdom and expertise of real estate experts.
What a difference an election makes. Since the election, we have seen a pronounced increase in the popular 30 year-fixed mortgage rate. In the words of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, financial markets expect that expansionary fiscal policy will accelerate U.S. economic growth and increase inflation. As a result, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate is now over 4 percent. In addition, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will likely announce this week a raise in the target range of the Federal Funds rate, from 25-to-50 basis points (bps) to 50-to-75 bps.