Fed’s Harker says high interest rates closing off housing for new buyers

By Michael S. Derby

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Philadelphia Federal Reserve President Patrick Harker said on Monday the current level of interest rates has nearly killed off access to the housing market for those looking to get in for the first time.

In the text of a speech to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s annual convention, Harker said when it comes to housing, based on his interactions in his district, “the climate could be crystallized in seven words, which one of those contacts said to me recently: ‘There are no first-time home buyers.'”

Harker explained that high interest rates have hit the housing sector by boosting costs and contracting inventory because many people no longer wish to sell, while pushing more prospective buyers into newly built homes.

He also reiterated comments made on Friday that “absent a stark turn in what I see in the data and hear from contacts, and audiences like you, I believe that we are at the point where we can hold rates where they are.”

(Reporting by Michael S. Derby; Editing by Paul Simao)