Will the Federal Reserve’s pause on interest rates matter if households get hit on deductions?
Let’s start with the good news. The Federal Reserve won’t aggressively raise interest rates this year. Instead of four rate hikes in 2019, as was widely assumed a few months ago, the Fed is likely to raise its short-term rate just once. This shift has quickly led to a measurable fall in the rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, from 5 percent in early December to 4.5 percent a month later. Why the change?
First, the housing market is softening. Sales haven’t kept up with job gains and population growth. Even inventories, which have been tight for years, are starting to rise.
Second, the inflation threat is receding. Although consumer price inflation hit a seven-year high of 2.4 percent last year, there is little sign it will be a factor in 2019. In fact, the Fed expects inflation to drop below 2 percent, As a result, the outlook for home sales improves. Look for an additional 200,000 sales for every 50-basis-point reduction in the cost of money, based on historical data.
But a new factor could prove to be a wild card: the limit on mortgage and property tax deductions enacted in 2017. While 95 percent of homeowners will be able to fully deduct their mortgage interest and taxes under the changes, others will not because they’ll no longer itemize their deductions, which makes home ownership more costly. So lower interest rates may have less power to spur sales.
For real estate investors, the mortgage interest deduction and property taxes remain fully deductible—as business expenses. Certainly, homeowners facing this unfair tax hit could act like investors by renting out their house (after proper disclosures to their mortgage lender), deducting their mortgage interest and property taxes as business expenses, and moving into a comparable rental home.
But our data shows most people want to live in the home they own. Shouldn’t homeowners get the same tax benefits as investors? In the year ahead, it’s an issue to be raised with lawmakers.
Lower Rates Could Spur Sales
Home sales dropped significantly at the end of last year, but there’s a reasonable chance they’ll head back up this spring as interest rates decline.
Here's a glimpse at the current state of the housing market in infographic form.
Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the National Association of REALTORS®
From time to time I read an interesting article in REALTOR magazine and this is one I'd like to share with you.
From my personal experience in the current Sun Valley real estate market, I can't say that offers are slowing in Sun Valley, Ketchum or Hailey. To find out more about market trends in the Sun Valley MLS, please visit my Market Trends tab.
Thank you Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, for keeping us up to date on the current real estate economy.
Sheila Liermann | Sun Valley, Idaho, Real Estate Broker
Call anytime with your Sun Valley real estate questions.