'Mixed bag' U.S. jobs figures could benefit Minnesota home buyers


The disappointing national employment figures released on Friday could potentially be good news for home buyers in Minnesota.

Economists had been predicting U.S. payrolls would increase by 220,000 and the unemployment rate would fall to 5.2 percent in August, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But while the Labor Department notes unemployment fell further than expected – to 5.1 percent – the number of jobs added by employers was only 173,000 (though this could rise once revisions are made.)

The figures were described as a "mixed bag" by the WSJ – a bit of a comedown from the rosy predictions made Thursday – and this could have a major impact on people across the country looking to buy a home.

That's because the U.S. Federal Reserve will be meeting Sept. 16-17 to discuss whether it will increase the interest rates. That's the rate financial institutions charge each other for money they borrow, so they can lend to consumers.

Will the figures stop an interest rate rise?

Interest rates have been 0-0.25 percent since late 2008, when the financial crisis was in full swing, as Federal Reserve chiefs wanted to stimulate the economy by giving individuals and businesses access to cheaper loans and mortgages.

If the jobs figures had been around or above what was predicted, CBS News reports it could have prompted the Fed to raise interest rates (probably by around 0.25 percent) in two weeks' time.

This in turn would have seen lenders increase the interest they charge on mortgages and loans to consumers – meaning someone who takes out a loan to buy a house could end up owing thousands of extra dollars.

However, the New York Times reports the lower-than-expected figures mean it is more likely now that the Federal Reserve will wait until its meetings in October, or even December, to raise interest rates – although the lower unemployment rate does mean there's still a chance it'll happen in two weeks.

Helpful for home buyers

Delaying the rate rise could prove beneficial for Minnesotans hoping to complete a house purchase before the inevitable market slowdown during winter.

Getting a cheaper mortgage could be particularly helpful (average interest is currently around the 3.75 percent mark) given that buyers are already having to deal with house prices that have continued to rise since the market crash of a few years ago.

According to Zillow, the median home value in Minnesota is currently $181,700 – a rise of 2.9 percent compared to last year.

The acceleration is even greater in Minneapolis, where the median sale price of $229,900 is 3.1 percent higher than it was in 2014, Trulia notes.

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