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Real estate CEO: Fed move 'very encouraging'

Wednesday was a historic day with the Federal Reserve opting to raise target interest rates for the first time in almost a decade. The move may make some types of borrowing more expensive and put some prices under pressure.

But with a limited effect on mortgages, the housing market shouldn't necessarily worry — indeed, the move might even be a good thing, one expert told CNBC's "Closing Bell."

"A modest move in rates because of a good economy, which is really the messaging around this move, I think is very encouraging," said Douglas Yearley, director and CEO of luxury housing company Toll Brothers. "We're actually thinking that this is going to bring out some pent-up demand, it's actually going to move some demand in, and we're pretty optimistic about where we go."

When Wells Fargo raised its prime rate Wednesday, for instance, it told CNBC that a change in the federal funds rate will have no impact on the interest rates on existing fixed-rate mortgages and other fixed-rate consumer loans.

At 4 percent, 30-year fixed rates, which is what Yearley focuses on, are less than 1 percentage point higher than their record low. And Yearley doesn't expect them to crawl higher as quickly as the short-term rates.

To be sure, in the luxury market, mortgage rates are less of a determining factor, Yearley said. But Zillow, a real estate listing company, put out a report this week claiming that 70 percent of potential homebuyers it surveyed nationwide said they would not abandon their buying plans if mortgage rates were to hit 4.5 percent.

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"There are still plenty of families, in their 30s, in their 40s, that ... are still looking to move up," Yearley said. "They've been on the sidelines now for a better part of a decade, and we have a lot of demand for those houses still."

That optimistic sentiment was echoed by Timothy Mayopoulos, CEO of mortgage loan company Fannie Mae. But other reforms on the horizon do bode to have a bigger impact on the mortgage industry, Mayopoulos told "Closing Bell" Thursday.

An omnibus spending bill in Congress includes provisions prohibits the Treasury Department from selling the government's stake in mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac until 2018 without future legislation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"There's lots and lots of positive reform that's already happened," Mayopoulos said. "I actually think it's good that policymakers are getting back into focusing on what needs to happen to finish the reform process."

Despite a changing regulatory landscape, Mayopoulos said that people remain committed to Fannie Mae's mission to make affordable housing and rentals available to millions of people.

"I think a slower, more deliberate process is important," Mayopoulos said.

— CNBC's Diana Olick contributed to this report.