TheStreet's Jim Cramer is keeping an eye on a key piece of economic data that's set to be released Wednesday: Mortgage applications.
"I think this is the beginning of perhaps a rush -- before people realize that rates are about to go up," Cramer said. "I expect there to be a spurt of home buying."
The Mortgage Bankers Association reports weekly mortgage applications data at 7 a.m. EST. The most recent report of mortgage applications for the week ending Dec. 11 revealed a 1.1% drop from the prior week.
Cramer is interested to see how mortgage applications stand after last week's historic meeting from the Federal Reserve, in which the central bank announced a hike to short-term interest rates of 25 basis points. This was the first rate increase since June 2006 and ended a seven-year period of rates at crisis-era levels, or near zero.
Though in its statement, the Federal Reserve reiterated that future rate hikes will be subject to the health of the economy: "In determining the timing and size of future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate, the Committee will assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation."
Adding to that narrative was Tuesday's slight downward revision to third-quarter gross domestic product, which came in at 2%, compared to a previously reported 2.1%. "This is not the kind of number that's going to get the Fed to accelerate in their movement to gradually raise rates," said Michael Hanson, senior economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, based in New York, in an interview after the data was released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Nevertheless, a hike to short-term rates results in higher borrowing costs, which could prompt home buyers sitting on the sidelines to pull the trigger and apply for a mortgage before rates climb even higher.
At the time of publication, Jim Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS held no positions in stocks mentioned.