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When the Federal Reserve meets, we all have questions: What does it mean to me? Will my mortgage rate go up or down? Is this a good time to refinance? Bankrate is here to help. We’ve looked at five categories — mortgages, home equity loans, auto loans, credit cards and certificates of deposit — to determine if the Fed’s moves made you a winner or a loser. Here’s a look at mortgages:
Winner: Home shoppers in no hurry
The Federal Reserve’s decision to leave the federal funds rate unchanged is unlikely to dramatically impact mortgage rates over the short term.
Although mortgage rates have climbed in recent weeks, they are likely to remain relatively steady throughout the rest of the year, according to Richard DeKaser, chief economist for National City Corp.
That may provide some reassurance to potential buyers who might feel rushed into buying because they fear a sudden spike in borrowing costs.
Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans, also believes mortgage rates will stay low if the economy remains weak and the housing market continues to crumble. That combination should keep long-term rates — and mortgage rates — in check, he says.
However, all bets are off if the economy surges unexpectedly.
“It’s kind of a little counterintuitive that the better things are, the higher rates will go and the worse things are, the lower rates will go,” Walters says. “But that’s the reality.”
Loser: People with poor finances
Someday, the credit crisis will be behind us. That will be good news for homebuyers trying to secure financing.
However, even after conditions improve, people with poor finances are likely to remain out in the cold — permanently.
“I think part of the underlying reality is that credit was simply too readily available at times in the past,” DeKaser says.
Now that lenders have been burned, they will be more cautious about issuing loans in the future. It is unlikely that people with poor credit or puny down payments will be able to borrow unless their finances improve dramatically.
“To those folks, I would discourage any expectations that we’re going to get back to the easy conditions of 2006 any time soon,” DeKaser says.
For the brave of heart, now might be a great time to purchase a new home. Prices continue to fall, and mortgage rates remain relatively low.
“While homes were above their intrinsic value back in ’05 and ’06, they are now in many areas well below their intrinsic value,” says Walters, of Quicken Loans.
In many markets — South Florida, the Inland Empire area of California, Las Vegas — there are screaming buys for homebuyers who make intelligent purchases.
“If you can buy them and hold them, you’re going to do OK,” Walters says.