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3 times to buy a home with rates high (and 3 times not to)

It could make sense to buy a home when mortgage rates are high, but that won't always be the case.  Getty Images

Today's interest rate environment isn't the most friendly for borrowers. With the federal funds rate still paused at a 23-year high, today's mortgage rates may be less than desirable. With 30-year mortgage rates currently hovering near 7%, today's rates are a far cry from the 3% mortgage rates that were common in 2020 and 2021.

But high mortgage rates don't necessarily have to put your house hunt on hold. There are a few times when it may be a good idea to buy a home with a high mortgage rate — and a few times to avoid it. 

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3 times to buy a home with rates high (and 3 times not to)

Here are three times it makes sense to buy a home with high rates and three times it doesn't. 

3 times to buy a home with rates high 

Here's when buying a home may be advantageous, even in a high-rate environment. 

When you want to avoid competition

High rates can price buyers out of the market, which could benefit you if you buy in now. After all, recent data shows that mortgage application volume has been lower, indicating that fewer buyers are looking for homes right now. 

With fewer buyers in the market, you may have fewer offers to compete with. That could result in a higher likelihood that your offer will be accepted. And, depending on the market, it could also mean that sellers are open to price negotiations. 

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When you want to escape rising rent prices

The cost of rent is increasing in most markets. If your rent is on an upward trend and you're concerned about being priced out of your rental unit, it may be time to look into buying a home. After all, rent doesn't build equity, but owning a home does. And even with today's high mortgage rates, building equity is a big benefit of homeownership.

Plus, when you own your home, you can't be priced out of it simply because home values increase. You can be priced out of renting when rental prices climb, though. 

When new opportunities require you to relocate

There may be career or other opportunities that require you to relocate to a different city or another part of the country, like a dream job opportunity in another state. If that's true for you, it may be wise to purchase a home in the new location now, even with high rates. After all, you can still refinance when the interest rate environment cools. 

3 times not to buy a home with rates high

Here are a few times you may want to avoid buying a house when mortgage rates are high. 

When you can't afford the payments

Higher mortgage rates typically result in higher monthly payments on your mortgage loan. If you can't afford the monthly payments on a home in your market due to today's high mortgage rates, it may be best to hold off until rates decline in the future. 

When you're happy with your current home

If you're happy with your current home, buying a new home in today's high interest rate environment may not be the best choice. It will only cost you more in interest to move, and if you're content where you are currently, it may be better to wait for mortgage rates to cool instead before you make your move. 

When the prospect for rate cuts is high

It may also be wise to wait if you think mortgage rate cuts are on the horizon. After all, just a slight reduction in mortgage rates could result in big savings over the life of your mortgage loan, so waiting a few extra months for that to happen could be a smart strategy.  Remember, though, that there's no real way to accurately gauge where the mortgage rate environment is headed, so holding off could be a gamble, especially if you need to make your move within a specific time frame.

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The bottom line

While securing a low mortgage rate is ideal, there are times when purchasing a home at a high rate makes sense. Doing so could help you avoid competition during your house hunt, escape rising rent prices or capitalize on new opportunities that require you to relocate. But you may also want to avoid purchasing a home in today's high-rate environment if you can't afford the payments caused by higher rates, if you're happy with your current home or if you believe that rate cuts are on the horizon. 

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