On the back of the Fed raising interest rates because of an improved economic outlook, mortgage rates have spiked to 4% -- above the multi-decade lows we've become familiar with. But does this mean housing markets are on the up and up as well?
In the video below, Motley Fool analysts Gaby Lapera and Nathan Hamilton, discuss the reality behind predicting economic growth in the short-term and what it means for homeowners. Visit the Fool's mortgage website to learn more about mortgages.
Gaby Lapera: What housing markets are likely to grow, or decline in 2017?
Nathan Hamilton: Good question. I would look at it this way. Warren Buffett has a really good quote if you follow his quotes. Maybe this one's interesting. He says, "Any company that has an economist on staff has one too many employees." It's just a matter of looking at the economics of what's happening with the macro picture and saying, "Okay. What's going to happen with housing markets in Houston? What's going to happen to housing markets in D.C.?"
Ultimately, we don't know. You look at signs of maybe what happens with the Fed. If the Fed increases their Fed funds target rate, that signals the economy is maybe doing a little bit better. There's some momentum behind it. Go back to 2016. There were plenty of people that were forecasting interest rates to increase significantly. They didn't do that.
Looking at the macro picture, just broadly speaking, it is impossible to call the directionality in the very short term. If you look at the longer term trends, you can say, "Okay. Five, 10 years from now, what do housing markets look like?" I would put that in context and say, "Okay. Where are housing markets improving? Where is the economy improving locally?"
Look for those signs and then you'll have the answer to the question of, "Okay, what are housing markets going to do for me over the long term?"
Lapera: Of course, there are areas of the country where that's more volatile. Anywhere with oil fields, for example, the housing market is very up and down. It's dependent on ...
Hamilton: The volatility of oil prices.
Lapera: Exactly. In places like D.C., it tends to be a little bit more stable because of government work. Although, who knows now? We'll see what happens. Like Nathan was saying, the things that can happen with a local housing market can change in an instant. It's hard to assess, especially far away.
Hamilton: They're not predictable.