What does the interest rate hike mean for you?

Posted at 6:49 PM, Dec 16, 2015

The average person may not see any immediate changes in their personal finances due to Wednesday's interest rate hike. However, one of the biggest concerns is how it will affect the housing market.

"It would make sense to me that if housing interest rates were increased on mortgages, that means it would take people longer to pay off their mortgages," said Riley Tinkham, who is against the rate hike.

Jeff Hawks, a broker and vice chairman for ARA Newmark, said if you already have a mortgage, you are most likely locked into your rate. But if you are looking to buy a new house in the near future, the hike may mean you may have to look at cheaper homes.

"Your payment per month is determined by your income," said Hawks. "If your interest rate goes up a little bit, that payment goes up a little bit, which doesn't allow you to qualify for a loan, so you'll have to buy a home at a lower price."

Hawks said most lenders made moves months ago in anticipation of Wednesday's hike, so the only people who really have to worry are big borrowers. "It doesn't affect any long-term 10, 20, 30-year loans."

And, for folks on a fixed income, Hawks said the rate hike could be a benefit.

"Now, a lot of my friends who are retired are getting 1 percent [interest rate], which means if you have a million dollars, and you thought you would be getting $60,000 to $70,000 a year off your certificate of deposit, now you are getting $10,000 to $15,000," said Hawks. "It's a big difference for those who are retired."

The Federal Reserve's action shows it believes the economy is finally strong enough to withstand higher borrowing rates. Federal leaders are projecting the benchmark rate will rise to around 1.4 percent by the end of next year.

This is the first time the interest rate has been raised in years. The rate has remained near zero since 2008. It is going up one-quarter of a percent.