Downgrade Effect: Higher Rates, Elevated Inventory

by Mark Wellborn


As the Dow took a nosedive on Monday following Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, Jonathan Miller weighed in on the MRIS blog with his thoughts about the effect on the housing market.

UrbanTurf readers might remember the article that we did a couple weeks ago that examined what would happen to the housing market if a debt ceiling resolution wasn’t reached by the August 2 deadline. In that piece, Miller noted that interest rates and borrowing costs would likely go up and that the “indecision and lack of direction at the federal level [was creating] a sense of caution that causes potential home buyers to sit and wait.”

With the downgrading of the country’s credit rating (as well as that of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac), here is a quick snapshot of what else he thinks will happen:

  • Potential home buyers will likely take longer to make a decision.
  • A slow down in sales activity could cause inventory to rise.
  • Higher borrowing costs could not only have an adverse effect on home owners, but also companies, which could slow down the hiring process.

“The handling of the debt ceiling debate in July sealed the fate of eventual US and Fannie/Freddie downgrades, a decision that should have been made a few years ago by the rating agencies that ironically helped enable the economic problems we now face,” Miller told UrbanTurf via email. “Love them or hate them, the S&P actions force the issue and is the first step on a long road toward repairing our financial and housing markets rather than simply kicking the can down the road.”

One of his final thoughts was that low mortgage rates are keeping credit tight and that increasing interest rates could actually help the housing market. In short, low mortgage rates are forcing banks to choose between “enjoying the spread” risk free from the Fed versus issuing mortgages to consumers. Miller noted that he would elaborate on this theory in a future post.

See other articles related to: standard and poor's, jonathan miller, credit rating

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/downgrade_effect_higher_rates_elevated_inventory/3941


  1. janson said at 4:25 pm on Monday August 8, 2011:

    With Miller so consistently wrong in his predictions, with mortgage rates (and treasury rates) continuing to fall because S&P has no legitimacy in the market, why do you keep quoting them?

    When S&P downgraded Japan’s debt when Japan was in a situation like the US but worse (deeper deficits, more insolvent banks), I’m sure you know what happened: Mortgage rates fell for a decade.

    Rather than Miller, who facts showed to be wrong, why not quote someone who has a track record of getting things like inventory and mortgage rates right?

  1. Felton said at 4:39 pm on Monday August 8, 2011:


    most economists are saying that interest rates will fall in the coming weeks, but rise in the long term. impossible to know the accuracy of predictions like these for months.

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