Should Mortgage Lenders Fear the Fiscal Cliff?

OCT 18, 2012 12:01pm ET

Is all the talk about an economic ‘fiscal cliff’ spooking mortgage applicants? That’s hard to say – though loan applications have been down the past two weeks after spiking 16%. U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis told analysts the other day that his customers are feeling “less comfortable.” But borrowers are also blessed with the lowest mortgage rates in history and a fear – thanks to constant media reporting – that home prices may soon rise dramatically because all the so-called ‘shadow inventory’ is being sucked up by speculators, repaired and flipped. (Home flipping is the subject of at least one reality show on cable TV.)  So, now applicants face this dilemma: wait until the smoke clears on the fiscal cliff issue or jump into the mortgage pool before rates and home values rise. At least one lending niche should not suffer: refinancings.

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