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A new subdivision rises in Kleinburg, Ont., this year.

A rate rise this week would likely make floating-rate mortgages rise almost immediately, though stress test rules may blunt the effect on the wider market.

Not only would another quarter-point increase double the extra cash borrowers must scrape together to make their monthly payments, this time it is hard to ignore the writing on the wall that we are watching a trend. "Every single rise, yes, that will mean house prices are going to drop," says realty consultant Ross Kay from Burlington, Ont. There's no way to avoid the math." However, he says the rules imposed by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in anticipation of a series of rate rises like the one that could continue this week, have already had a bigger overall impact on the housing market.This spring OSFI required most first-time buyers to pass a stress test, suddenly forcing them to qualify for rates two percentage points higher than those in the market.Kay says that impact on the cost of borrowing at the entry level has had consequences all the way through the market and may dwarf the fallout of another quarter-point rise this week.In theory, rising interest rates, whether they come now or later, will hit consumers at many levels.That's because the cost of borrowing will rise not just for consumers but for businesses, too.However the slowing effect of rate rises is far from instant.Research has shown the full effect of a rate hike is not seen in the real economy for more than a year.At the end of last week, it was interesting to watch how the opinions of economists who analyze market expectations changed.On Wednesday a poll of economists assembled by the financial wire services showed expectations of a rate rise were a fringe view.But after Thursday's startling Canadian quarterly growth figures, that began to change.By the close of business before the Labour Day weekend, currency traders were betting more than even odds that a rate rise was on the way.

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