Why Home Buyers Should Understand the Importance of Interest Rate Drops
Real Estate buyers are usually highly focused on the purchase price of a property. This is a legitimate concern. The purchase price is one of the most important considerations in a real estate transaction. But at the same time home buyers too frequently treat interest rates as a secondary concern. Many buyers will stress over $300 or $400 in negotiations over purchase price. But when told that interest rates dropped half a point, home buyers will often respond with a shrug.
This is frequently because it is easy to understand the difference between paying 200k and 195k for a house. But it's harder to appreciate the difference between an interest rate of 6.5% and 6.0% for a house. But interest rates can have a large influence on mortgage payments. Using a mortgage calculator first let's look at the difference between the mortgage on a 200k and the mortgage on a 195k house assuming a 6.5 percent interest rate.
200k (6.5%) Mortgage $1264.13 per month
195k (6.5%) Mortgage $1232.53 per month
The difference ends up being $31.60 a month.
Now let's look at the difference between an interest rate of 6.5% and 6.0% on a 200k house.
200k (6.5%) Mortgage 1264.13 per month
200k (6.0%) Mortgage 1199.10 per month
The difference ends up being $65.03 a month or $780.36 a year. A simple half point drop lowered the mortgage payment by 5.4 percent.
Interest rate changes are not that uncommon. If we look at a historical chart of mortgage rates we see during the middle of 2007 interest rates were around 6.7%. At the beginning of 2008, interest rates were down to 5.75%. What is a little more interesting is when we look at the mortgage on a 200k house based on the interest rate for that date. From the middle of 2007 to the beginning of 2008, we saw a drop in the monthly mortgage payment on a 200k house drop from $1290 to $1170, a difference of 9.3 percent.
In light of all the mortgage issues over the last few years, it highlights why home buyers should shop around for interest rates. All too frequently home buyers will go with the first mortgage person they meet under the assumption that everyone has roughly the same rates and that a half point isn't really that big of a difference. As we have seen above, a half point can make a significant difference in someone's mortgage payment.
In summary, home buyers should still focus on price because it will always be an important part of the real estate transaction. But if home buyers start to look at interest rates more closely, they will end up with more success in their real estate purchases and lower mortgage payments.
- Last edited November 05 2008
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