Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Increasing Mortgage Rates May Increase Downward Pressure on Housing Demand

Today, the Financial Times reported that mortgage rates hit a 2017 high.   The following chart from the St. Louis FRED's system is a bit behind the article's data, but it also shows that mortgage rates are higher:

At what point does this impact the housing market?  We don't know -- there is no basic rule of thumb linking basis point increases in mortgage rates with home sales.  However, data shows that both new and existing home sales may be peaking:

The above chart shows new and existing home sales.  Both sets of data are recalibrated to a base 100 beginning on the last day of the last recession.  Existing sales (in red) have been reported at the same level (~110 on the chart) since July 2105.  This is by far the larger market.  New homes sales (in blue) increased in 2H 2016, but have since printed at approximately the same level.  

At some point, interest rates will increase to a level where they will construct demand.