The sharp rise in interest rates so far this year has been bad news for mortgage bankers and homeowners, and good news for banks and thrifts that specialize in adjustable-rate mortgages.
But the rate surge will also be bad for the economy, for home building, and for first-time homebuyers. David Lereah, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, said in testimony to a House Banking subcommittee that some 200,000 renters who would have purchased a home this year would now be shut out of the market because of higher interest costs.
Mr. Lereah also pointed out that declines in interest rates had reduced mortgage payments to the tune of about $30 billion over the last two years.
But now, he said, homeowners would have to put up an extra $3.5 billion into their mortgage payments. This amount would no longer be available for consumer spending.
The bottom line, Mr. Lereah says, is that he has cut his estimate of home sales for this year by 140,000 units, to 4.64 million. And he expects a slight contraction in sales next year.
That's not particularly encouraging for the mortgage industry, which has been looking to a strong purchase market to make up for the disappearance of refinancings.