Q: I’m looking to buy a house in the next couple of years, but I’m worried about rising mortgage rates. What’s my best strategy?
A: Rates are already up: From the beginning of the year to July 31, the average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage rose from 3.6 to 4.6 percent. For someone with a $200,000 loan, that’s a payment increase of $116 a month.
But don’t dwell on missed opportunities; your concern is the future. Mortgage rates—which, by the way, are still historically low—will probably keep rising, predicts Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at the online mortgage tracker Bankrate. That’s because the economy is rebounding, and “a stronger economy means higher rates,” McBride says.
This means it’s cheaper to buy now than six months from now. Keep an eye on rates at Bankrate, and remember this rule: For every percentage point that rates rise on 30-year fixed mortgages, your payment rises about 12 percent.