3 homebuying approaches to take in 2024

Homebuyers in 2024 should take an informed — but aggressive — approach to the market. Getty Images/iStockphoto

After months of data showing inflation cooling, the first report of 2024 showed it ticking up again. Currently, at 3.4% percent, inflation is still significantly higher than the Federal Reserve's target goal of 2%. That means there's still work to be done and, despite some arguably premature hope, interest rate cuts may be pushed off until later in the year — if they come at all.

That's unfortunate for many borrowers, and particularly homebuyers who had seen rates come down slightly in anticipation of rate cuts to come in 2024. And while the benchmark rate may still ultimately be lowered this year, by how much and when that will happen is unknown at this stage. 

That said, there are some compelling reasons for buyers to act now. But with these economic considerations at the forefront, there are some more advisable approaches to take than others.

Start by exploring your mortgage rate options here to see what you could qualify for.

3 homebuying approaches to take in 2024

Here are three smart approaches homebuyers should consider taking this year.

Be informed

Arguably, the best approach for homebuyers right now is an informed one. The more knowledge you have about the economy, the real estate market and where you want to buy, the better. With volatility still in play, you'll need to be informed and up to date on the state of inflation and the corresponding interest rates. 

Homebuyers should also start researching their potential lenders now — and avoid waiting to do so when rates stabilize. Shop around and see what rates you could qualify for from multiple lenders and be sure to look at any additional fees or charges each lender may tack on during the closing process. You may be surprised at how much you could save simply by doing your research and being informed. But you won't know those figures until you get started.

Begin exploring mortgage rates and lenders online now.

Be aggressive

The mortgage rate environment changes daily, and the rate you can secure today could be dramatically different than what you can get tomorrow — or what you could've locked in if you'd applied last week. With this understanding, don't be afraid to be aggressive and lock in a rate when it works for you. The interest rate environment right now is still too volatile to act otherwise. 

There are likely plenty of homebuyers who regret not locking in a 5% or 6% rate in recent years, but those "high" rates would be considered low now when matched up against the average 7% rate many can get in January 2024. So don't be afraid to be aggressive when an attractive rate is presented. You can always refinance in the future — or unlock and lock in a newer, better rate before closing.

Be realistic

While it may be tempting to wait for mortgage interest rates to fall, particularly in light of recent inflation news, homebuyers should also take a grounded and realistic approach. Even if rates were to drop this year, they're unlikely to do so in a dramatic fashion. And the sub-3% rates of 2020 are highly unlikely to return anytime soon (if they do at all). After all, those historically low rates came during the height of the pandemic when the economy was experiencing unprecedented turbulence. 

In a more stable and reliable climate, then, they're more likely to level off somewhere higher (although maybe not as high as where they are now). So, be realistic about your expectations and understand that if it means passing up on your dream home or losing a great opportunity, you're likely better off acting now versus waiting for a rate climate that may never return.

Learn more about what mortgage rate you could qualify for now.

The bottom line

Today's real estate market and mortgage rate environment are unique. As such, homebuyers need to take a more nuanced approach to the process. This includes being hyper-informed about inflation, interest rates and broader economic trends, but it also means being aggressive and proactive when the rate environment changes in a more favorable way. Finally, by taking a realistic approach, buyers can avoid missing out on their dream home or great opportunities. Combined, buyers can better position themselves for success this year, regardless of what happens in the larger rate environment. 

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