Blitzer: Fed Rate Hike Won’t Lead To ‘Runaway’ Mortgage Rates

U.S. home prices continued to rise in October, increasing 0.1% on an unadjusted basis compared with September and 5.2% compared with October 2014, according to theS&P/Case-Shiller home price index.

After seasonal adjustment, home prices increased 0.9% compared with September, according to the report.

On an unadjusted basis, the index’s 10-city composite was unchanged compared with September while the 20-city composite saw an increase of 0.1%.

After seasonal adjustment, the 10-city and 20-city composites increased 0.8% each compared with September and 5.1% and 5.5%, respectively, compared with October 2014.

San Francisco, Denver and Portland saw the highest year-over-year gains in home prices in October, according to the report.

“Generally good economic conditions continue to support gains in home prices,” says David M. Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a statement. “Among the positive factors are consumers’ expectations of low inflation and further economic growth, as well as recent increases in residential construction, including single-family housing starts. Inventories of existing homes have averaged around a five-month supply for the past year – a level that suggests a fairly tight market with limited supplies. Sales of new single-family homes, despite recent increases in construction, remain mixed to soft compared to the trend in existing-home sales.”

Blitzer adds that based on his analysis, the recent rate hike by the Federal Reserve, and the additional rate hikes to be phased in during 2016, won’t have a significant impact on mortgage rates.

“The recent action by the Federal Reserve raising the Fed funds target rate by 25 basis points and spreading expectations of further increases during 2016 are leading some to wonder if mortgage interest rates might rise,” Blitzer says. “Typically, increases in short-term interest rates lead to smaller increases in long-term interest rates. From May 2004 to July 2007, the Fed funds rate moved up from 1.0 percent to 5.25 percent; over the same period, the mortgage rate rose from about 6.0 percent to 6.75 percent during a sustained tightening effort by the Federal Reserve. The latest economic projections published by the Fed following the recent rate increase suggest that the Fed funds rate will be around 2.6 percent in September 2017 compared to a current rate of about 0.5 percent. These data suggest that potential home buyers need not fear runaway mortgage interest rates.”


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