Well after months and months of speculation, the Federal Reserve Board finally announced the start of their \”tapering\” program in which they will reduce the amount of their purchases of government and mortgage-back securities by ten billion dollars per month. Starting in January, the Fed will purchase $75 billion dollars monthly instead of $85 billion dollars. This program was instituted during the financial crisis both to keep long-term rates lower and provide some stability in a mortgage market which was devastated by the crisis. By lowering the amount of purchases, the Fed is officially proclaiming that America is well on the road to recovery.
This does not mean that the Fed is about to raise interest rates. What it means is that the Fed will be exerting less influence over long-term rates which are of utmost importance to consumers because fixed-rate home loans are influenced significantly by the direction of long-term interest rates. The Fed has been going out of its way to say this does not mean that they are ready to raise short-term rates. The Fed has emphasized its commitment to keep short-term interest rates \”exceptionally low\” until either the unemployment rate falls to around 6.5% or the inflation rate exceeds 2.5% a year.
Why is this good news for the Holiday? Well, the stock markets rallied decisively on the news. The economy is recovering and this is a good thing. Long-term rates rise when the economy is stronger. This is especially the case when rates are bouncing back from the lowest point in history. But rates are still very, very historically low. And this is good news for homeowners because a stronger economy will translate into more buyers and this will cause the positive cycle to continue. All in a low rate environment. So, we have something to celebrate.