If the U.S. economy is to hit escape velocity in 2017, you can expect the real estate sector to serve as its rocket fuel.
At its most broadly defined, housing can be counted on to compose 15% of GDP. It hasn’t done that much heavy lifting lately, however. That’s because in the wake of the real estate bubble, lending standards have remained tight, while the cautious builders who survived the crisis have been reluctant to dive headfirst into expanding their operations again.
But there are signs that these trends are about to change. As the new year rolls on, we’ll fill you in on the health of builders and other key trends to watch below.
1. Rising Rates
In December, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for only the second time since 2006, and a majority of the members of the Fed’s rate-setting board predict there will be three more increases coming in 2017. These decisions will cause mortgage rates to rise, potentially making it more difficult for prospective homebuyers to be able to afford the home of their dreams. (In fact, those rates have already started creeping up.) But don’t worry too much about this trend. As Redfin Chief Economist Nela Richardson predicts in a recent blog post, “We expect mortgage interest rates to increase, but to no higher than 4.3 percent on the 30-year fixed rate.” That’s still a great deal compared to historical norms.