It May Be Time To Buy a Home!

Real estateBuying a home has earned a bad name in recent years. But the great American dream of owning a home is on the comeback. In many parts of the country, rents are rising while housing prices are falling, making buying a home more affordable. If you’re struggling with whether to buy versus rent, consider these 10 reasons to take the plunge into homeownership:

1. You can take advantage of currently low interest rates and prices. Interest rates remain at historical lows, and at the same time, home prices in many areas remain soft. In some areas, asking prices on homes went down 0.7 percent over the last year, while rents went up by 5 percent.

2. Owning a home forces you to save. Since homeowners have to pay their mortgage every month, they are routinely putting money away (and into their house, which they own), instead of spending it on unnecessary items. Then, when you decide to sell after a number of years, there’s a good chance that you’ll walk away with a payoff.

3. Unlike rent, a fixed mortgage can’t go up (even if inflation does). Fixed Mortgage rates don’t go up, even if the cost of everything else does. To protect yourself, try to make a 20 percent down payment and take out a 30-year fixed mortgage to lock in today’s low interest rates.

4. Homeowners can take tax deductions. You can deduct mortgage interest payments and also eligible expenses (certain energy efficient improvements, for example) and in some cases can avoid federal taxes on earnings from the sale of a home. Consult your tax advisor.

5. You can make the space your own. Owning the space you live in means you have the freedom to customize it by moving a wall or changing a paint color without worrying about losing your security deposit.

6. Homeowners buy less furniture. When you rent, you may need custom furniture that fits the space. If you move a lot, you can end up buying a lot of furniture. Once you buy a home and settle in for the long haul, you can purchase a few pieces that will be with you for years.

7. Homeownership allows you to build a second income stream. From taking in a renter in a spare bedroom to renting out driveway space to commuters, homeowners are increasingly finding creative ways to monetize their homes. In cities with scant green space, some homeowners even rent out small patches of grass for people who want to grow vegetables.

8. No landlord can kick you out. Renters can face an unexpected eviction notice if their landlord suddenly decides to sell the home, rent to someone else, or otherwise end the lease.

9. You don’t have to speak to a landlord, ever again. If you’re the homeowner, then you’re in charge—which means you have to be home when the plumber calls, but the plumber reports to you. (And, of course, you also have to pay the plumber.) Landlords can take ages to fix a broken dishwasher, etc.

10. You can save on energy costs. Energy efficient improvements, from adding insulation to upgrading your air conditioning unit, can reduce your monthly utility bill.

As always, review your personal situation: if you might move soon, or you want the flexibility to take off with just a month’s notice, then renting may be for you.

But if you want to build for the future and plan on staying put for the foreseeable future, start house shopping!