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Little influence on mortgages
Mortgage rates respond to market forces -- specifically, to the needs of bond investors. The Federal Reserve exerts an indirect influence on mortgages.
Sometimes mortgage rates go up when the Fed increases short-term rates, as the central bank's action sets the tone for most other interest rates. But sometimes mortgage rates fall after the Fed raises the federal funds rate. Look at the last time the central bank went on an extended rate-raising campaign:
Starting in June 2004, the Fed raised the federal funds rate 17 times in two years. And what happened at first? Mortgage rates fell during the summer and fall of 2014. Back then, the Fed's rate hikes caused investors to become less concerned about inflation, so mortgage rates fell.
Mortgage rates eventually rose, and were higher in June 2006, at the end of the rate-hiking campaign, than they were at the beginning, two years earlier.
Housing economists for the Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Realtor.com, and the National Association of Realtors all expect mortgage rates to rise in 2017.
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