As we ring in the New Year, financial resolutions top our to-do lists, from saving more to finding a new, better-paying job and getting out of debt once and for all.
As you map out your next money move, take heed of some of these top market and economic predictions for added guidance.
Higher Borrowing Costs
Looking to open a new credit card or apply for a mortgage this year? It may be wise to act sooner than later.
With the broader economy improving since the financial crisis (e.g. the national unemployment rate is hovering at 5%, down from nearly 10% in 2009), economists, including Janet Yellen, chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, believe it’s time for a tightening of monetary policy (translation: boost interest rates to curb inflation.)
Fortune Magazine’s “Crystal Ball,” says we can expect a three-quarter-point increase by next Thanksgiving to 1.25%.
When the Fed raises the overnight bank-lending rate (aka the Fed Funds rate) that typically has a domino effect on interest rates for other mainly short-term financial products like credit cards and car loans.
What this means for us? If you’re in the market to borrow money, I recommend reviewing your credit ahead of any applications to see what improvements (if any) are necessary. The higher your credit score, the better chances you have of achieving the lowest interest rates on the market.
If you’re seeking to refinance or buy a home this year, also aim to lock in a rate as soon as possible. While an increase in the Fed Funds rate isn’t necessarily a precursor to higher mortgage rates, we’re already seeing an uptick on 30-year home loans to above 4%. And Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey shows that more than 50% of consumers think mortgage rates will continue to elevate over the next year.
Finally, for those of us with adjustable rate loans (e.g. some student loans and mortgages) we may want to pay off our debt more aggressively or refinance to a fixed-rate loan to put a lid on rising monthly payments down the road.
Less Sticker Shock in Housing
With home loan rates expected to track north, home values may see some cooling in 2017. That’s because when mortgage rates jump, demand for housing tends to slowdown, placing pressure on sale prices.
Not to mention, after riding a hot streak in recent years with prices across the country hitting near pre-recession levels, real estate experts at Zillow.com now predict a “normalizing” market with more moderate price growth of 3.6% across the country in 2017, compared to 4.8% last year.
Prepare for more affordability in areas that have experienced the steepest gains. In Los Angeles, for example, home prices have trended considerably higher in recent times (up 7.3% over the past year, alone). In 2017, though, the city can expect a tempering of home values to a growth of just 1.7%, according to real estate website Zillow.com.
As for rentals, after double-digit surges, rents in many large metro areas will also see slower growth in 2017, per Zillow. Rents across the country are expected to rise approximately 1.7 percent this year to about $1,429 per month, down from a 6% appreciation reported last year.
Partly to blame for the cool down in rent is a glut in inventory. Builders were very busy over the last few years, but the demand for new units in some hot neighborhoods like Brooklyn, N.Y. is failing short of supply.
As a result, some landlords at higher end luxury apartment buildings in that borough have been striking sweet deals with renters since last summer, The New York Times reports. For example, at 7 DeKalb, a new high rise in Brooklyn, “the landlord is offering two months of free rent with a 14-month lease, and use of the building’s fitness center and other amenities for a year without charge.”
That’s a good reminder to prospective renters everywhere that it can never hurt to negotiate, especially this year!
Farnoosh Torabi is America’s leading personal finance authority hooked on helping Americans live their richest, happiest lives. From her early days reporting for Money Magazine to now hosting a primetime series on CNBC and writing monthly for O, The Oprah Magazine, she’s become our favorite go-to money expert and friend.