Have you always dreamed of living in the big city? Now may not be the time.
For the sixth month in a row, apartment rental prices in Manhattan have reached a record high. With the median rate last month at $4,150 per month, rentals have climbed 2.5% since June and a whopping 29% from just one year ago. Renters are currently shelling out an average of $5,113 per month.
According to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers and Consultants, rent prices are expected to soar even higher this month as August is generally peak season. It is unclear what to expect from September, though. If the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates with the hope to curb inflation, the possibility of a recession will become more of a reality. In this situation, layoffs would be expected and demand for Manhattan rentals may decline, which would likely result in an ease on prices. However, Miller expects that rent prices will continue to climb till the year’s end, perhaps at a slower rate.
While rentals are in high demand, the dream of many to become homeowners is being put on hold. Rising mortgage rates are making the possibility of buying now impossible for many. With the current average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage now at 5.81%, families are opting out. With less buyers, the rental market is seeing extra added pressure, contributing to the increase in rates.
As the economy continues fluctuate in so many areas, the housing market will swing along accordingly. With the end of year gradually approaching, it will be interesting to see what develops. As Miller has asserted, “…it is going to come down to external factors like unemployment and hard landing to see what happens next.”
Interest rates will be staying low is the conclusion the Federal Reserve reached in its first meeting since its August decision to keep the benchmark federal funds rate near zero and its last meeting before the November presidential elections.
The Feds renewed its promise to keep interest rates close to zero until a time when they see inflation on a consistent climb.
The decision to keep the benchmark federal funds rate between 0 and 0.25 percent was not a surprise. The low rate has been maintained since March, when the pandemic began to take its toll on the US economy and health. Fed officials expect that the low rates will be maintained at least until 2023. Fed officials also altered their predictions about GDP, saying it would not be as steep a decline as they originally envisioned. They also expect the unemployment rate to reach about 7.6% by the end of this year.
“With inflation running persistently below this longer run goal, the Committee will aim to achieve inflation moderately above 2 percent for some time so that inflation averages 2 percent over time and longer-term inflation expectations remain well-anchored at 2 percent. The Committee expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved,” the post-meeting statement declared.
US interest rates, which have been hovering near zero for about 6 years, are expected to rise as the US economy continues its slow but steady recovery. The World Bank is closely watching what the US Federal Reserve will do, and when, and is expecting when that day finally does arrive, developing economies might be in for some hard times.
The hike in interest rates could come as early as this Thursday, when the Fed winds up a policy meeting. In a report issued by the World Bank they warn that such a rise could have a modest impact on developing countries, but also adds that there is a chance that the fall-out could be worse.
The World Bank has several reasons for their concern. They believe that a rise in interest rates could interfere with capital flows into developing countries, which can lead to stifling of economic growth, which could then lead to financial instability.
Despite their warning, they also site several reasons to be optimistic. First of all, any increase in interest rates will happen gradually, allowing developing economies to cope more easily with any changes. They also point out that any changes in rates will happen within the context of a strong, growing US economy, which usually bodes well for the global economy in general.
The price of oil lurched upwards on Tuesday despite the fear that the Chinese economic recovery may not be everything investors wished for. Driving the upward direction of oil is the hope of investors that the US Federal Reserve will implement new strategies which will help give the US economy a bit of a jump start.
The January delivery price for Benchmark crude was $85.80 per barrel, representing a 23 cent rise during late afternoon Bangkok time electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The same contract had fallen only the day before by 37 cents on the Nymex, closing at $85.56.
Brent crude, which is used more to establish the price of international types of oil, was also up. On the ICE futures exchange in London the price was $107.66, an increase of 33 cents from the previous day’s closing price.
The Federal Reserve began a two day policy meeting on Tuesday. The results of the meeting are widely believed to be the purchase of more long-term Treasury bonds in an effort to replace the program which expires with the coming new year.
In an attempt to help boost the sluggish economy’s growth President Obama announced a proposal which will allow all homeowners to refinance their mortgages at more attractive rates, even if what they owe on their mortgages is actually more than the worth of the house. This is a crucial issue in many states which are pivotal to Obama’s re-election.
Obama wanted to outline more specific details of the proposal he only outlined in his State of the Union Address concerning finding a way for homeowners to cash in on the nation’s record low mortgage rates. It is estimated that the average homeowner could save about $3,000 a year by re-financing.
Will Congress Agree?
The proposal, however, will need to pass through Congress, which is not necessarily in favor of such a plan if it would allow homeowners to refinance even if they own more to the bank than the actual value of the house, a situation which many homeowners find themselves in today due to the housing slump.
Not As Popular as Predicted
The plan is an enlargement of an already existing program, the Home Affordable Refinance Program. This plan lets borrowers who have government affiliated mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to refinance at more affordable rates. A disappointing one million people have use the plan, much fewer than the 4 to 5 million the Obama administration was predicting. The new plan also expands to include “underwater” borrowers; those that own more than the value of their homes.
Economists in the private sector believe that if the plan is expanded to all borrowers, then about 10 million homeowners would be qualified to refinance, giving the economy a jumpstart not to be underestimated. The Federal Reserve has been more conservative in their assessment of the plan’s impact, saying closer to 2.5 million additional Americans would be eligible to refinance under the terms of the expanded program.
CoreLogic, a real estate data firm, notes that about 11 million Americans are “underwater,” about 1 out of 4 homeowners who have a mortgage.