Is It a Good Time to Buy a House?

Summer is peak homebuying season. High prices remain a challenge, but inventory is slightly better than last year.

Updated
Profile photo of Barbara Marquand
Written by Barbara Marquand
Senior Writer
Profile photo of Michael Soon Lee
Reviewed by Michael Soon Lee
Profile photo of Alice Holbrook
Edited by Alice Holbrook
Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
Profile photo of Abby Badach Doyle
Co-written by Abby Badach Doyle
Lead Writer

Some or all of the mortgage lenders featured on our site are advertising partners of NerdWallet, but this does not influence our evaluations, lender star ratings or the order in which lenders are listed on the page. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners.

Editor's Note: In April 2024, a judge granted preliminary approval to a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over real estate agents' commissions. See how that will affect home buyers and home sellers.

If you're wondering whether it's a good time to buy a house, ask this instead: Is it a good time in my life to buy a house?

Housing market trends give important context. But whether this is a good time to buy a house also depends on your financial situation, life goals and readiness to become a homeowner.

Here's what to consider.

AD
HomeLight
Looking to Buy or Sell a Home?
NerdWallet has partnered with HomeLight to help you find the best performing real estate agents
find yours

with HomeLight

The market outlook for home buyers

These are some factors affecting buyers in today's market.

Mortgage rates ease slightly

The interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.77% annual percentage rate (APR) for the week ending July 11, down 17 basis points from the previous week and down 28 basis points from a year ago, according to rates provided to NerdWallet by Zillow. A basis point is one one-hundredth of 1%.

Average weekly mortgage rates

Mortgage type

APR

30-year fixed mortgage

6.77%

15-year fixed mortgage

6.11%

5-year adjustable

7.65%

Averages are for the week ending July 11, 2024, according to rates provided to NerdWallet by Zillow.

On the bright side, mortgage rates have dropped since October, when the 30-year rate topped 8%. But in general, mortgage rates have remained stubbornly high throughout the first half of 2024. In June, the 30-year fixed rate cooled off to an average 6.823%, slightly below its plateau of about 7% throughout April and May. If inflation gets under control in 2024, as many experts predict, mortgage rates are likely to continue a modest decline.

Another bellwether to watch is the Federal Reserve: If the Fed announces a rate cut later this year, which seems possible as the economy cools, mortgage rates are likely to come down. After a series of 11 increases to the federal funds rate starting in March 2022, the Fed has kept things steady since September 2023. A rate cut of even a fraction of a percentage point would offer buyers more relief.

Higher rates shrink buying power because they make home loans more expensive. For example, the monthly payment for a $350,000 house with a 20% down payment would be $1,679 with a 6% mortgage rate on a 30-year mortgage, not including home insurance and property taxes. With a 7.5% rate, the monthly payment would be $1,958 — $279 higher.

You can't influence average rates, so focus on the things you can control:

  • Shop around for the best deal. Especially given today's higher rates, buyers can save $600 to $1,200 per year by applying for loans from multiple mortgage lenders, according to a February 2023 study by Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored entity that buys conforming loans from mortgage lenders.

  • Make sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payment. A home affordability calculator can help you crunch the numbers.

  • After getting approved for a home loan, consider locking in the mortgage rate until the loan closes to protect against further rate increases.

Mortgage loans from our partners

NBKC - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on NBKC

NBKC

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
NBKC - PURCHASE logo

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
620

Min. down payment 
0%

Check Rate

on NBKC

Rocket Mortgage - PURCHASE logo
Check Rate

on Rocket Mortgage

Rocket Mortgage

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Rocket Mortgage - PURCHASE logo

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Min. credit score 
580

Min. down payment 
3.5%

Check Rate

on Rocket Mortgage