WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says she expects the Fed to raise its benchmark interest rate several times a year through 2019, as it moves closer toward to its economic goals of maximum employment and stable inflation.
But in a speech in San Francisco Wednesday, she said she can’t say when the next interest rate will occur or how high rates will rise. She says that will depend on how the economy performs in the coming months.
She says Fed officials, who boosted rates for a second time last month, expect to raise rates “a few times a year” until they have pushed the Fed’s benchmark rate close to 3 percent by the end of 2019. The rate now stands in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent.
The 3 percent level for the Fed’s target for the federal funds rate, the interest that banks charge each other, is the point that the Fed currently believes is the so-called neutral rate — the level where the Fed’s interest rate policies are not spurring growth or holding it back.
“Right now our foot is still pressing on the gas pedal, though, as I noted, we have eased back a bit,” Yellen said. “Our foot remains on the pedal in part because we want to make sure the economic expansion remains strong enough to withstand an expected shock, given that we don’t have much room to cut interest rates.”
Currently, Yellen said inflation is still running below the Fed’s 2 percent objective, by its preferred measure of prices, and that some measures show that even though unemployment is below 5 percent, there could still be room to make further progress on jobs.
“For instance, wage growth has only recently begun to pick up and remains fairly low,” Yellen said.
She said as the economy gets closer to the Fed’s goals on employment and inflation, it will make sense to “gradually reduce” the level of support the Fed is providing by raising interest rates.
“Waiting too long to begin moving toward the neutral rate could risk a nasty surprise down the road — either too much inflation, financial instability, or both,” Yellen said in her speech to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.
During her appearance, Yellen made no mention of the incoming Trump administration. President-election Donald Trump was critical of Yellen during the campaign, accusing the Fed of being political and keeping interest rates low to help Democrats.
Yellen has denied this charge. She has said she intends to remain as Fed chair until her term ends in February 2018.
Yellen was asked how the Fed safeguards its political independence while at the same time strengthening policy coordination with the executive branch.
One long tradition dating back decades, she said, is the Fed chair’s regular meetings with the administration’s Treasury secretary.
“During my time, I have had virtually a weekly breakfast or lunch with Jack Lew,” Yellen said, referring to the current Treasury secretary.
She said the meetings are used for exchanging views on the economy, but she said she has never felt pressure from the administration to follow a particular course on interest rates.
“We share a common interest in the success of the U.S. economy, and the administrations, at least the ones I have experience with, respect the independence of the Fed,” Yellen said.
The U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency said on Wednesday it raised the maximum limit on mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can acquire in 2017, the first increase since 2006, as home prices have risen above their third-quarter 2007 levels.
In most U.S. areas, the 2017 maximum “conforming” loan limit for one-unit properties will increase to $424,100 from $417,000, the regulator of the two mortgage finance agencies said in a statement.
Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, FHFA could not increase the baseline loan limit until the average home price returned to its third-quarter 2007 levels.
Home values in the third quarter were about 1.7 percent higher than their levels nine years ago, according to the FHFA.
In high-cost areas where median home prices exceed the baseline loan limit, the maximum loan limit will be higher. The new ceiling loan limit in these areas will be $636,150, or 150 percent of $424,100, for one-unit properties in the contiguous 48 U.S. states, FHFA said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the FHFA said U.S. home values appreciated by 1.5 percent in third quarter, while its seasonally adjusted monthly index on home prices rose 0.6 percent in September.
ORIGINAL ARTICLE: HERE
You, like many people, might be thinking about high-tailing it to Canada after last night’s election results.
In fact, so many people panicked and considered a move to the Great White North that the Canadian immigration website crashed, displaying a “500 – Internal server error” message for hours. As more and more states turned red, the “let’s all just move to Canada” jokes became increasingly common on social media.
But in the event you did actually want to buy property and move to Canada, what would it take?
First, it involves recognizing that buying property in Canada is not a path to citizenship, said Leigh Freeman, a Canadian-American citizen and a real estate agent at Windemere’s Bellingham branch and Macdonald Realty in Vancouver. Canada welcomes buyers from all countries, and while there are no limits or restrictions for foreign buyers, property owners still have to go through the bureaucratic process of applying for a Canadian visa, he said.
Those hoping for citizenship must first become permanent residents and live in Canada for at least two years within a five-year period, according to Canada’s immigration and citizenship website (which works now). The process to obtaining permanent residency status can be long and complicated, making work and student visas seem like more attractive options. But these options are usually temporary solutions and may not put you on a path to citizenship. Even marrying a Canadian citizen does not instantly grant you citizenship privilege.
When it comes to buying property, though, the home-buying process is largely the same as it is in the U.S. As with other large metropolitan cities, the issue soon becomes finding something that fits within your price range.
“There’s kind of a sticker shock when buyers look at the Vancouver market,” Freeman said. “What Americans will find in Vancouver is that the prices are substantially higher.”
In May, the benchmark price for homes in the greater Vancouver area climbed to $1.09 million USD, according to figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. The benchmark price is a measurement that represents a typical property in Vancouver and takes into account factors — such as lot size, home age, and number of rooms — that are often excluded by averages and medians. The resulting figure supposedly forms a more accurate picture of the market.
American home buyers will also encounter a number of Canadian property taxes. Vancouver has received so much attention from foreign buyers that in August, the city enacted a 15 percent foreign buyer transfer tax. The tax is an effort by city officials to cool the red hot market, which saw foreign nationals spend more than $1 billion on Vancouver-area property between June 10 and July 14, CBC News reported. The tax applies to the Vancouver metro area and also includes the nearby cities of Surrey, White Rock and Richmond, among others.
Buyers can also expect a property transfer tax, which applies to any residential or commercial property purchase, Freeman said. One percent is taxed on the first $200,000 of the final sale price with an additional 2 percent tax on the value between $200,000 and $2 million. Three percent is taxed on any remainder more than $2 million. This tax applies to sales within all of British Columbia.
The additional taxes can add up quickly. Freeman recommends buyers look at areas surrounding Vancouver, such as Surrey, Ladner, Tsawwassen and White Rock, which can offer more affordable options. Keep in mind that some of those areas, including Surrey and White Rock, will include the foreign buyer transfer tax.
Even then, moving across the border in a fit of panic won’t make financial sense for many people, said Dean Jones, principal and owner of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. He recommends renting a home for at least a year to see if potential buyers can make the jump. And then American home buyers will face stiff competition from other foreign nationals who have been streaming into the Canadian market for years.
“A similar phenomenon has been coming from Asia for the last 20 years,” he said, referring to the influx of largely Chinese buyers snapping up Vancouver real estate. “Americans would only be the latest to seek financial safe harbor in Canada.”
_SOURCE_ Seattle PI
REPOST from Windermere’s own,
Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist, Windermere Real Estate
The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.
The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?
First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.
On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.
It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.
As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.
Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.
Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.
Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.
We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.
To say that Windermere has a lot of Seahawks fans would be an understatement. That’s why we are so excited to announce today that we are now the “Official Real Estate Company of the Seattle Seahawks”!
At the center of this partnership with the Seahawks is a new #tacklehomelessness campaign in which the Windermere Foundation will donate $100 for every Seahawks tackle at home during the 2016 season. On the receiving end of these donations is YouthCare, a Seattle-based non-profit organization that has been providing services and support to homeless youth from across Puget Sound for more than 40 years. Since 1989, the Windermere Foundation has donated over $30 million to non-profits that support low-income and homeless families, so partnering with YouthCare and the Seahawks on the#tacklehomelessness campaign is a perfect fit for us.
“We are proud to partner with Windermere, an iconic and locally-based company with a deep commitment to this community,” said Seahawks Vice President of Corporate Partnerships Amy Sprangers. “Windermere’s brand and values align perfectly with our commitment to this region. It is wonderful that this partnership will make a positive impact on homeless youth throughout the Seattle area.”
Now say it with us . . . Go Hawks!