Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates – What it Means for Housing

Today, as long expected, the Federal Reserve has raised the benchmark interest rate by a quarter percent. It is the first time since December 2008 that the Fed has raised the rates, and they emphasize that they will continue to lift it gradually.

Callout quote“The [Fed] expects economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the fed funds rate,” the Fed said in a statement (Wall Street Journal, December 16). The Fed has stated they will continue to carefully monitor progress, but are reasonably confident that inflation will rise.

How does this affect housing? Some economists are saying that “people who want to buy a house should have a greater sense of urgency.” Explains one real estate consultant:

“Mortgage rates are expected to rise about 1 percentage point over the next several years. That would mean the same-priced house will cost you 12 percent more in monthly payments.

“So if mortgage rates go from 4 [percent] to 5 [percent], payments are going to go up 12 percent; that will hit affordability hard,” he says. “And I don’t think that message has really gotten out there to people — that they understand they should take advantage of where rates are today” (NPR, December 15).

New Developments in Home Mortgages and Highland Park Real Estate

Real Estate Week in Review

Local News

New developments are coming in Highland Park real estate, including new plans on- and off-street parking at the Ford site to encourage growth and ease congestion. Also, the city council has denied an attempt by neighbors to block the 735 Cleveland Ave building, a 4-story new construction site. No zoning changes or variances has been required (Highland Villager). Stay tuned to the Miller Grossman website for updates on these and other projects.

A new real estate venture, Stadium Partners LLC, has purchased Hubert’s Cafe and Sports Bar near the Vikings stadium, the first example of stadium fueled development (MSP Business Journal, June 5). The venture is planning cosmetic tweaks and a new name: the original Hubert’s.

Hillcrest has sold 6 northeast Minneapolis developments (Business Journal, June 4). The portfolio includes Crown Center, home to Blu Dot Furniture and Bauhaus Brew Labs; Frost Building, home to Dogwood Coffee Co.; and the renovated 1515 Central Ave, home to Sociable Cider Werks.

National News

It was announced on Thursday that the US has added 1 million new jobs since the start of the year, including 280,000 in May (CNN Money, June 5), and 3 million new jobs over the last 3 years (Associated Press, June 5). “It’s timely progress for the economy as the Federal Reserve board meets on June 17. The Fed is widely expected not to raise its main interest rate in June, but Fed Chair Janet Yellen will speak to the press and offer her outlook on the economy. If conditions continue to improve, interest rates could rise for the first time in about a decade — another healthy sign for America’s economy” (CNN Money).

“Those additional paychecks helped increase spending on housing” — through the first four months of this year, new construction home sales have gone up 23.7% compared to this time last year, illustrating a continuing demand for homes (AP).

Also in national news, the Supreme Court on Monday determined that homeowners who are underwater on their mortgage cannot void a second loan (Associated Press, June 1). This means, even if the home isn’t worth what they owe on the primary mortgage, bankrupt homeowners cannot “strip off” a second loan.

Finally, US Regulators are warning that many ads regarding reverse home mortgages are misleading, and “don’t tell the whole story.” Read more here.