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December 18, 2016

2017 Real Estate – Mortgage Outlook

by Bob Schwartz

2017 Real Estate Mortgage Outlook

Central Library San Diego - San Diego housing market forecast 2017 Real Estate

As I’m writing this in mid December 2016 the Federal Reserve Board just hiked short term interest rates inthis past Wednesday. This quarter percent interest rate hike was pretty much universally anticipated, and so did not come as a surprise to the financial community.

What was a surprise to many was the fact that the Federal Reserve Board stated in their Wednesday meeting minutes that they anticipate to raise the interest rate at least three times during 2017.

We all know that rising interest rates are a damper on the real estate market. But, usually when rates first increase, like this Wednesday’s move after a while of inactivity or decreasing rates, the residential real estate activity actually picks up. Some attribute this uptick in the fact that it motivates many potential buyers who had been considering a purchase as well as new buyers entering the market to get their purchase closed as soon as possible so as to avoid any continuing rate hikes.

With the federal reserve actually stating that it anticipates three more rate hikes in 2017, I personally feel that in a month or two, when the real estate statistics are published, we are going to see a big increase in residential sales activity at least for December 2016 through March 2017.

So, right now interest rates for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage were averaging approximately 4.16%, this was up from 4.13% just last week. Now, if we go back a full year, around December 2015 the 30 year fixed rate home mortgage was averaging approximately 3.97%. When one looks at these rates in comparison, the recent Federal Reserve rate hike did not really have a dramatic affect in the 30 year fixed rate home mortgage rates.

2017 Real Estate

Personally I feel that we didn’t see such a dramatic increase in the 30 year home mortgage rate because the Federal Reserve’s move had long been anticipated and was already factored into rates to some extent. But, more importantly, I believe that the main factor in keeping home mortgage interest rates relatively low is the fact that the Federal Reserve has been and continues to be, the major investor in home mortgages. Some say that the Federal Reserve is $1 trillion investor in the US home mortgage system..

I think that as long as the Fed remains committed to investing in the home mortgage market, 30 year mortgage rates may only modestly increase as the Fed raises the short-term interest rates in 2017.

Now, even with modest mortgage rate increases, qualifying for increased monthly mortgage payments naturally becomes more difficult and some buyers may have to reduce their expectations because of this. If we go back to October and look at the national median home price of $268,000, assuming a 20% down payment, at today’s average fixed rate of 4.16% for a 30 year loan, the average monthly increase would be approximately $86. So, even with such a modest increase in the home mortgage rate, today’s home buyer would be shelling out over $1000 a year more because of it!

Here is a link to my 2017 San Diego real estate market outlook.

 

2017 Real Estate

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