Increases in disposable personal income per capita, slipping unemployment and low interest rates continue to be key drivers in rising U.S. home prices, according to a report by CNBC. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, home prices were up 5.6 percent on an annual basis in November, up slightly from the previous month’s mark of 5.5 percent. The index measures all nine U.S. census divisions. The results exceeded economists’ expectations. According to a poll by Reuters, they were anticipating the 20-city index to rise 5.1 percent in November. In a press release, David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, offered his take on the rebound.
“One can argue that housing has recovered from the boom-bust cycle that began a dozen years ago.”
There are a number of factors that could go into the increase. Blitzer noted that the Trump administration’s tax proposals, pro-growth agenda, infrastructure and spending plans all could have an impact on the housing market.
“Mortgage rates have increased since the election and stronger economic growth could push them higher. Further gains in personal income and employment may increase the demand for housing and add to price pressures when home prices are already rising about twice as fast as inflation.”
Ralph McLaughlin, Trulia’s chief economist, told Business Insider that investors continue to purchase U.S. mortgage-backed securities, which pushes down yields and indicates confidence in the housing market.
“Furthermore, the Fed is likely to delay a December rate hike because of global economic turmoil. Both effects mean short term win for borrowers, and we’ll likely see an increase in mortgage refinancing if rates continue to plummet.”
There could be some potentially choppy seas ahead. The recent trend toward higher interest rates has raised concerns about the outlook for home prices going into 2017, resulting in mixed responses from economists. Data from Bankrate.com indicates that the average national rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was just over 4.15 percent in mid-December, around 85 basis points higher than the 3.3 percent lows of September. Allen Shayanfekr, chief executive officer of Sharestates, told The Street higher interest rates could compress home and investment property values.
“Higher interest rates mean larger monthly payments and in turn, lower loan amount qualifications. If lenders tighten up, it will restrict the buyer market, causing either a plateau in market values or possibility a decrease depending on the margin of increased rates.”