Owning a home has its benefits


Opportunity is knocking for those considering homeownership for the first time. Historically low interest rates, lower home prices in most markets and the first-time homebuyer tax credit – part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – brought first-timers to the market in droves throughout the year.

In fact, these consumers represented about half of home sales logged during 2009, according to the National Association of REALTORS®, a significant increase from historic levels. And the favorable conditions that prompted many of these first-time buyers are likely to continue. President Obama in early November signed into law a five-month extension of the first-time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000, as well as a new tax credit of up to $6,500 for existing homeowners who want to purchase a home to be their primary residence (see your real estate professional and tax advisor for details). Both credits will be available through April 30, 2010.

Today’s opportunities aside, here are eight time-honored reasons why those considering homeownership for the first time should make their move.

1. Pride of Ownership – Owning your own home adds to your own sense of self-esteem and personal pride. The satisfaction that comes from feeling connected to the land you occupy and the home in which you live is ages-old. 

2. Security of Tenancy – With homeownership comes stability. When renting, you never know when you may have to move because of new ownership, rent increases or other changes. As a homeowner, you decide when and if you want to move.

3. Privacy – While there are usually some limits on the access landlords have to property, almost all landlords can access your property for necessary inspections and maintenance. For many renters, this lack of privacy is a significant discomfort. Homeowners on the other hand generally have much stronger property rights and experience an increase in perceived and actual privacy.

4. Decorating – Homeowners are free to decorate, remodel and accessorize a home any way they want. Not only do you have the right to make improvements, but the value of those improvements becomes yours as well. Having your living space and exteriors just the way you want them can significantly increase your satisfaction with your living environment.

5. Financial Predictability – When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, you have more predictability over future housing costs. Because your interest rate never changes, the amount of your payment never changes. Financial planning and credit are more easily managed with a fixed-rate mortgage compared to renting.

6. Building Equity – When you own your own home, you pay rent to yourself instead of a landlord. Most homeowners pay for their purchase by obtaining a mortgage. As you pay off that mortgage, your equity builds and you gain an increasingly larger share in a valuable asset. Over time, that asset can work for you in many ways, such as home equity lines of credit. And of course, a home is a wonderful asset to pass along in an estate.

7. Investment Appreciation – There are certainly no guarantees of property value appreciation. In the long-term, however, real estate valuations almost always increase. This means that when you decide to sell your home, its value may be significantly higher than when you purchased it. The difference in value is called appreciation. You can reinvest that appreciation in other real estate or you may wish to downsize and keep the value of that appreciation for retirement or other purposes.

8. Tax Benefits – In the United States, the cost of home mortgage interest and property taxes are usually tax-deductible. Depending on your circumstances, thousands of dollars in taxes can be saved each year. These tax savings are not limited to federal taxes either. Many states and localities either base their tax system on the federal system or offer similar incentives to homeownership. Some additional benefits are designed specifically for first-time homebuyers. (See your tax advisor for additional information.

If you still have doubts, contact a real estate professional in your community. He or she can answer questions you may have about homeownership and explain the buying process to you.

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