With the Federal Reserve indicating a looser policy, the housing market is on a path toward plateauing, according to analysts at Fannie Mae.
Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group expects the Fed to hike interest rates once this year, according to its forecast for January, recently released. If so, the decision could give housing a lift, as affordability for beleaguered homebuyers improves. The economy is expected to grow 2.2 percent this year, decelerating due to the fiscal stimulus unwinding.
“We believe that contained price pressures should afford the Fed sufficient latitude to slow or pause rate hikes this year,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. “This will allow the economy to continue growing, albeit at a slower pace, and housing to regain its footing.
“Economic growth in 2018 will likely turn out to be the strongest of the current expansion, and inflation remained anchored even as the unemployment rate dipped to multi-decade lows,” Duncan says. “However, home sales experienced a setback, partly attributable to the most aggressive pace of monetary tightening of the expansion.”
In 2018, buyers contended with mortgages rates that were, at times, volatile. Currently, the average 30-year fixed rate is 4.45 percent, Freddie Mac reports—not as high as it hit in the latter part of 2018, but up from the beginning of the year, when it was 4.15 percent. Home sales, simultaneously, struggled. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, existing-home sales either stalled or stumbled eight out of the 12 months of the year.
According to Duncan, economic indicators are leaning on the moderating side.
“This year, the expansion is likely to become the longest on record, but the path to continued growth faces a number of downside risks with fewer upside risks,” says Duncan. “With fading impacts of fiscal policy and tight financial conditions around the globe, we’re seeing moderating economic growth in the next couple of years. The Fed’s continued efforts to unwind expansionary monetary policies implemented during the recession have the potential to add to the headwinds facing the economy.”
Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at email@example.com.