A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reports that short-term rates may be held near zero for several more years, encouraging some to buy or refinance homes while triggering others to delay retirement or other “money milestones.”
“Whether super low rates present opportunity or peril depends on where you fall on the borrowing-saving spectrum,” the article says, offering the following points to consider:
- Loans will remain cheap, which could spur increasing home buying, but the article notes that caution is in order, citing comments from the Mortgage Bankers Association chief economist Mike Fratantoni: “I would never encourage someone to rush out and buy a home just because rates are low. At the right point in your life, that’s when you want to buy a home.”
- Not everyone wins. Low rates will primarily benefit those with strong credit scores. Banks are tightening lending criteria. And big savers may suffer, particularly those with high cash balances. Those facing retirement will also get hit.
- The “delay play.” Decreased income may lead some to put off retirement or college.
- Student loans are affected differently, depending on whether they are federal or private loans. Those with federal loans are now allowed to defer payments until December 31st, but the article warns that this won’t apply if the debt is refinanced or consolidated.
- Risk-Reward analysis. “While low rates may tempt some people to take on more risk, don’t forget: We’re still in a pandemic,” the article says.