Recently on CNBC, Warren Buffett stated that he would buy “millions” of single family homes if he had the means to manage them. The more interesting comment he made during his interview was that houses will be a better investment than stocks over the long term. A powerful comment coming from a person who built his business (and fortune) selling securities. [Watch the video.]
The US Appetite for Debt
So far, I’ve never heard the same commotion in the market and the media unlike earlier this year when the US economy earned an embarrassing downgrade.
Perhaps, with all the Thanksgiving Holiday frenzy and the Black Friday storm that took place, almost everyone doesn’t care a whit about the surging US debt and is just looking forward to inflate personal spending. Well, that isn’t the case in Washington though. Democrats and Republicans are currently at a stalemate as to the best way to reduce the US debt, which now tops the $15 trillion mark from its $5.6 trillion level in 2000 according to usdebtclock.org.
Fed Set to Hold Rates Low as US Economy Struggles
The US Federal Reserve is expected to keep US interest rates at historic lows when it meets later Wednesday, as it tries to keep a languishing recovery on track. The Fed's top rate-setting body is widely expected to keep its main rate of borrowing at between zero and 0.25 percent to help spur economic growth.
Faced with reams of data showing the recovery is still fragile, the debate over whether the Fed should quickly raise rates to stave off inflation has all but disappeared in recent months. The Fed's announcement will still be keenly watched as investors look for any hint that a double-dip recession is on the way, or that the worst of the danger has passed.
Jobs growth remains anemic with employers still reluctant to add permanent positions during the fragile recovery. The unemployment rate is expected to hover near 10 percent for quite some time as the economy regroups after the worst downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s Consumers have been cautious about spending, which normally drives about two-thirds of the activity in the world's largest economy.
When Will Mortgage Interest Rates Increase?
On November 19, 2009 Freddie Mac recorded an average 30 year mortgage rate at 4.83%, down from 4.91% the previous week. Just over one year ago, the 30 year mortgage rate averaged 6.04%. So long as you have solid credit and a 20% down payment, whether real estate investor or homeowner, this time in history is certain to mark historic lows for home buying. In addition, those who still have equity in their property can take advantage of an incredible refinance opportunity.
Mortgage companies have seen steady rises in applications for refinance, but certainly not at the volumes seen just two years ago. Why isn't everyone flocking to refinance? The answer is quite simple, homeowner appraisals are often below the requirements needed to refinance and many homeowners are dealing with loss of income due to unemployment or wage cutbacks. The only solution is for the economy to pick up and create more jobs along with more competition for increased wages. Unfortunately such a task, although eventually likely, is not in the near future. Economists across the nation are predicting additional declines in jobs during the first quarter of 2010. Job creation is likely to remain slow during most of 2010.
Yet there is still a silver lining to the doom and gloom. It is likely that the federal government will do all they can to keep interest rates low up until actual job creation becomes more robust. Interest rate hikes over the next 6 to 9 months will only occur if outside-international influences force the hand of our financial markets to increase rates. Although a remote chance of this exists, I for one believe we have another year of healthy-low interest rates within the real estate market. Once rates do inch up it is likely to be welcome, so long as inflation remains tame and not hyper.