de Moraes column: Do interest rates affect real estate values?

Sean de Moraes

While the feds didn’t increase rates Wednesday, they did set the stage for another hike in September as we have seen already this year. But how will that effect our real estate market? If you’re not buying, selling or refinancing, it really doesn’t matter, providing you’re in a fixed-rate mortgage.

If you are thinking of selling a home, you should consider its affordability. No doubt, your home may be worth what you’re asking or want out of it, but keep in mind that pricing it at a certain level may be decreasing the buyer pool for your property, making it unaffordable for certain buyers.

Last year, interest rates hovered around 4.1 percent for a 30-year fixed mortgage. Today, that same 30-year mortgage would have around a 4.6 percent interest rate. Now consider the buyer of your home and what 0.5 percent means. Based on a $500,000 purchase price and a standard 80/20 LTV (loan to value ratio), at the lower rate, a buyer would have a principle and interest payment of $1,932. Now at the higher rate of 4.6 percent, the buyer’s payment would increase monthly $118 to $2,050.

If a buyer were to live in the house for 30 years and never refinance, the 1/2 point interest rate would cost them an extra $1,416 per year, or $42,480 over 30 years.

It’s easy to ask a little more and then reduce the price of a home when you’re not getting offers; in fact there seems to be a lot of that happening considering how many price reductions I see.

Most home buyers have budgets. They want to feel secure in their everyday lives and don’t want to feel cash poor and real estate rich, or married to their mortgage. Now to turn the table a bit — think from a buyer’s perspective. If this home was now priced at $480,000 at the same interest rate of 4.6 percent and 20 percent down, the new principle and interest payment would come in at $1,968 or a little more than $30 per month higher than the higher priced home and lower interest rate.

If I got you thinking that if interest rates rise, home prices must go down, there is no strong evidence to support that, and I’ll let you be the judge. It doesn’t mean your home is worth less, it just means you may be decreasing your buyer pool of who can afford your home.

Sean de Moraes is an agent with Roaring Fork Sotheby’s. He can be reached at

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