House Punting: The Cost of Waiting to Buy in Hot Markets

When shopping for a big purchase, the line that “it never hurts to wait” often makes sense. But that’s only because by looking around more, you might find a better deal. Which is why, with interest rates expected to rise over the next few years and home-buying demand still heathy, following that advice could be costly in today’s real estate market.

To put a price tag on the possible cost of waiting to buy a home, real estate information website Zillow Inc. assumed that the rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage would rise 1 percentage point. It calculated how that higher rate -- which would be about 5.1 percent -- would affect a buyer's monthly mortgage payments. Zillow applied that rate to the median home price in 35 metropolitan areas, assuming a 20 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. (More assumptions that went into the calculations are here.)

The one-year waiting costs ranged from a minor $65 a month in St. Louis to a major $710 a month in San Jose, California.

Zillow’s calculations of the potential costs of waiting a year to buy a home:

San Jose, Calif.: $710 a month

San Francisco: $556 a month

Los Angeles: $478 a month

San Diego: $353 a month

Riverside, Calif.: $315 a month

Seattle: $299 a month

Sacramento, Calif.: $252 a month

New York: $201 a month

Boston: $198 a month

Portland, Ore.: $189 a month

Washington, D.C.: $186 a month

Las Vegas: $176 a month

Phoenix: $147 a month

Denver: $135 a month

Miami-Ft. Lauderdale: $129 a month

Orlando, Fla.: $128 a month

Atlanta: $118 a month

Tampa: $110 a month

Baltimore: $108 a month

Austin: $104 a month

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