How Much Increasing Mortgage Rates Really Impact Your Monthly Payments and Eligibility

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Rising mortgage rates might seem like an abstraction when you read or hear about them in the media. But they become a grim reality when you look at your mortgage bill and see a bigger payment, or when the loan you qualified for a year ago is suddenly no longer available.

Many Americans are set to experience that reality now that the Federal Reserve has made its first interest rate hike since 2018. The average 30-year fixed mortgage rate was 4.42% as of March 24, according to Freddie Mac. That’s up from 3.11% as recently as December, Fortune reported.

How does such a big move so fast affect your monthly payments?

As Fortune noted, a borrower with a $500,000 mortgage at a 3.11% rate would have a monthly mortgage payment of $2,138. If the rates top 4.5%, the payment would reach $2,533 — nearly $400 a month higher. Even on smaller mortgage loans of $200,000 or less, a mortgage rate hike as little as 1% can add up to $1,000 in additional mortgage payments over the course of a year.

Borrowers who already locked in fixed rates before the increase don’t have to worry about rate hikes. But borrowers with adjustable-rate mortgages could see a big swing in their monthly payments.

That’s not the only impact of higher mortgage rates, either. Some potential buyers could get pushed out of the market because they no longer meet debt-to-income ratios required by banks to approve loans.

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The one piece of good news for home buyers is that this could lead to a deceleration in home prices, which have risen at record rates over the past year.

“Looking ahead to the spring market, the combination of rising interest rates, continued low supply and rising inflation could slow the housing market from the heights it’s seen in recent months, even if prices continue to rise,” Robert Heck, vice president of Mortgage at Morty, a mortgage services platform, told GOBankingRates in an email statement.

He recommends that potential home buyers make sure they get pre-approved at the updated rate levels to ensure the homes they’re viewing remain affordable.

“While the rate increases over the past month may cause some buyers to reduce their budget, this may be a sign that their budget may already have been stretched and that they may need more time to improve their financial profile,” Heck said.

Another step buyers can take is to research online mortgage marketplaces to get a sense of competitive rates that are available across different loan options, he added. You should also talk to an agent who can give you a sense of different rate options available in your immediate area.

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