Families on the search for a new home need to pay close attention to the cost of today’s interest rate hike. Mortgage rates are already the highest they’ve been in more than a decade.

The Federal Reserve’s decision to hike interest rates by a half percentage point won’t immediately affect mortgage rates, like it does with credit cards or car loans. But you can expect an increase coming soon.

Experts say that the longer you wait to go under contract on a new home, the more your buying power drags down.

Erin Calabritto is counting down the days until she can close on a home in Angier for her and her son. She searched for homes for sale for the past six months, and every week that went buy, mortgage rates rose.

“It’s not a house hunters era, where you have lots to choose from and plenty of time to make a decision,” she said.

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She worked with The Sherry Riano team to get a “mortgage refresh” every time that rate ticked up.

“If you got prequalified 6 months ago and you’re still in the market looking, you were preapproved at a 3%. Now, we’re at 5.5%. So, you want to make sure what your payment is,” said Sherry Riano, a mortgage lender.

Take a look at how much more that monthly mortgage payment is today on a median price home in the Triangle with 20% down.

You’d take out a loan of $320,000. At the 2.98% rate a year ago, the monthly payment was $1,756.

It’s $2,227 at today’s 5.5% rate — $471 more each month.

And over time, that interest adds up. A buyer last year will pay close to $62,000 over 7 years. Today’s buyer is paying nearly $117,000 in interest at the higher mortgage rate.

“If we see a difference in interest rates that increase on a mortgage side by half a point, you’re talking about an additional $100 a month in your mortgage payment,” Riano said.

Riano tells buyers in the Triangle to not be scared off by mortgage rates climbing.

“We’re still at an historical low rate even at 5.5%,” she said. “It’s an amazing time with the appreciation in our market and these rates to purchase.”