The Federal Reserve is finally taking more action to raise its short-term rates. Last week, it voted to raise the Fed funds rate by 25 basis points. That is expected to add pressure to mortgage rates, too. Many housing analysts fear that rising mortgage rates could further impact home affordability and lead home buyers to pause.
However, Rick Sharga, executive vice president of Ten-X and former senior vice president at RealtyTrac, disagrees. He thinks the rise in mortgage rates could prove to be a good thing for the housing market.
He argues that it will cause buyers to get off the fence faster and move into the market sooner, before rates go any higher. He expects that to help increase home sales in 2017, too.
Sharga also believes that higher rates will cause lenders to loosen some of the tight underwriting standards that have plagued the housing market the last few years and that has prevented many would-be borrowers from moving forward.
“This will happen partly just due to higher mortgage interest rates, which will provide a bit of a cushion for lenders to take on a little more risk,” Sharga writes in a recent column. “And higher rates will also drastically reduce the number of refinance loans being issued, which lenders will try to offset by doing more purchase loans.”
Also, Sharga doesn’t discount that the Fed’s 25 basis point hike may not actually have that big an impact on mortgage rates. “The 25 basis point hike was well within the range that most industry analysts had expected, which means it’s possible that today’s hike won’t cause mortgage rates to rise significantly from current levels, which are already the highest they’ve been in years,” Sharga notes.
Mortgage interest rates have risen over the last few months and projections are that they will continue their upswing throughout 2017. What impact will this have on the housing market? Here is what the experts are saying:
Laurie Goodman, Co-director of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center:
“In 1984, 1994, 2000, and 2013, every time we have rate increases, we have increases in nominal home prices. We expect this to be more pronounced, as there is a big demand-and-supply gap at the present time.”
Scott Anderson, Chief Economist for Bank of the West:
“The tightening labor market, rising wage growth, high levels of consumer confidence and a millennial generation with a pent-up demand for housing should allow the housing market to weather the storm of gradually rising interest rates.”
Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z” Report:
“Although we strongly believe that the housing supply-demand imbalance for single-family homes will continue to drive above-average home price appreciation, just as falling mortgage rates aided pricing power on the margin in recent months, we expect the opposite effect to become evident in the coming months. As such, we project year-end home price inflation of 4.8% for 2017 and 4.1% for 2018.”
Bob Walters, President & COO of retail mortgage lender Quicken Loans:
“A modest increase in mortgage rates won’t have much of an effect on home purchases. A buyer may need to slightly re-evaluate which homes they can afford, but it’s not likely to make an impact on qualifying, in most cases.”
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming:
"Our survey data shows that mortgage rates would have to be significantly higher to have any meaningful impact. The house buying power that borrowers have, even with rates below five percent, still remains historically strong."