Las Vegas –

Just as home prices begin to drift down in the Las Vegas real estate market, mortgage rates are now topping 6% for the first time since the Great Recession in 2008.

For first-time homeowner Kristina Plourde, it created a roll of the dice before she finally closed on a house. “Should I wait? Will they go down? How long will it take for it to go down,” she wondered about interest rates while watching home prices start falling. “Can I afford to wait,” she said. “I gamble if the rates go down, or will they continue to go up if I wait?”

According to Kristina’s loan officer, Jennifer Buserini, prospective buyers are better off locking in a rate now because higher interest rates will easily offset lower housing prices. “If you’re waiting for prices to come down specifically for that reason, that could end up hurting you in the long run because if the interest rates go up to half a percent, you’re still going to have a higher payment than you would if the home was $10-$20,000 more.”

Economist Mike PeQueen says higher mortgage rates could also have an impact on inventory, but not necessarily add to it. “Everybody thinks that when housing prices do what they do, and when interest rates go up, and they have, it means that there are fewer buyers, and that’s right,” said PeQueen. “But it also means that there are fewer sellers, fewer people willing to give up those two and a half percent mortgages, so we see fewer houses being listed and fewer buyers coming to market. So it’s a double whammy.”

PeQueen does, however, anticipate the housing market in Southern Nevada will not feel the same level of impact that other cities are bracing for as mortgage rates climb. “The Las Vegas housing market could do better than the national average for a couple of reasons. First of all, we’ve seen strong job growth in the last 6 or 12 months as the hospitality industry comes back online. And that’s a big driver of it,” he said. “And, we also see that Las Vegas, Southern Nevada as a destination for people to move here because its low taxes and relatively affordable housing relative to other parts of the country is still a big deal.”

PeQueen also points out that the Federal Reserve, which raise interest rates by another 75 basis points on Wednesday, does not directly influence the interest rates on home loans. “The Fed controls one thing short-term interest rates,” he said. “The 10 year government bond is really what affects the rate that we pay on our mortgages, and the 10-year government bond interest rate is determined by how many people want to buy bonds from the government at whatever rate they’re offering.”

As a result, PeQueen believes mortgage rates may stabilize sooner than later. “They will probably continue to trend up a bit, but we’ve probably already seen the majority of hikes in mortgage rates that we’re going to see. They may still go up a bit from here, but not just as much as the Fed is going to raise rates each month going forward.”

*Story originally appeared on KSNV Las Vegas