LAWTON, Okla. – Dec. 19, 2016 – Buying a home may be the American dream, but it's also a monumental task: You have to clean up your credit, apply for a mortgage, scrape together a downpayment, and then move all your worldly possessions in after you close on the deal. Phew!
So then why do millions of Americans go through the trouble? Because they know that whatever headaches and hassles they must endure are far and away outweighed by the many benefits of buying a home.
If you need some inspiration to start house hunting or just want to make sure you're taking advantage of all that homeownership has to offer, check out this top 10 list of perks that will repay your hard work from now well into retirement.
1. Predictable payments A landlord can raise your rent whenever a lease expires – and often by as much as he pleases. But as a homeowner, you can lock in a predictable mortgage payment for as long as 30 years. Instead of worrying about fluctuating rents, "homeowners can create a budget knowing that their principal and interest payments won't rise … ever," says Brian Davis, co-founder and real estate blogger at SparkRental.com. Bonus: Your housing budget goes toward your homeownership, not your landlord's.
2. Appreciation "Owning a house provides you with a valuable asset and financial stability," says Peter Vekselman, a real estate professional with Keller Williams' Yates Estates in Georgia. By purchasing a home, you'll have an asset that, in many cases, will appreciate in value over time. A $200,000 home today should see an increase in value to $250,000, $300,000, or more-depending on how long you plan to live there and market conditions, according to Vekselman. This makes your home one of the best investments you can make and a way to establish a financial foundation for future generations (aka your kids).
3. Tax benefits The many expenses of owning a home – like property taxes and accounting costs – are tax-deductible. The largest deduction is generally the interest you pay on your mortgage, according to Liane Jamason, a broker associate with Florida's Jamason Realty Group. "This allows you to keep more of your hard-earned money."
4. Freedom to make modifications What renter hasn't thought: "I'd really love to paint/alter/knock down this wall to …"? Well, to do whatever the hell you want to do. But, of course, you can't – not without the landlord's blessing. And if you are allowed to renovate your rental, it's the landlord who will ultimately benefit. (Especially if you do a really awesome job at it.) Homeowners, on the other hand, don't need permission. They can paint any room any color, replace the cabinets, add a deck, or do any other modifications they wish, says Davis. "Homeownership enables you to live life under your own rules."
5. It's cheaper Sure, there's the upfront cost of the downpayment and closing. "After that, the monthly outlay of owning a home is much less than paying rent in the majority of markets in the U.S.," says Davis. According to RealtyTrac, buying is the more affordable choice in 58 percent of U.S. markets. Plus, mortgage rates are currently low, making it an economically wise choice to purchase a home sooner rather than later.
6. Increased privacy Some rentals are constructed of inferior building materials like plywood or shoddy drywall. If your house, townhouse, or condo is built of concrete and stucco, it will provide a greater sound barrier from your neighbors. "When you own, you can also make your own modifications such as putting up a fence for added privacy," says Jamason.
7. Built-in rainy day fund Homeownership provides you with the opportunity to borrow money on the equity you eventually build up by consistently paying your mortgage. Securing a home equity loan at a relatively low interest rate "will enable you to get financing for an emergency, large project, or other expense," says Vekselman.
8. Community ties Owning a house you plan to stay in for a while also allows you to have an impact on your community with your taxes benefiting local infrastructure, schools, and organizations. You'll also have a voice - if you wish - in how things are run in your area.
9. A secure retirement A home can be the ultimate nest egg, providing you with a great investment for retirement. The longer you own a house, the more it should eventually be worth. "If you live there for 30 years, other things being equal, the home should appreciate 100 percent or even more," says Vekselman. As you get older, you can sell the home and use the proceeds to purchase or rent something smaller. Another option: Rent out the house to maintain a steady income stream so you can travel or do other recreational activities.
10. It's yours! This may seem fairly obvious, but it's worth emphasizing: With a rental, you run the risk of getting kicked out at the end of your lease. With a home, you can live there indefinitely. And isn't there something comforting in knowing there's a place where you'll always have a roof over your head?
Margaret Heidenry is a writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Boston Magazine.
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"Tue, May 17, 2016
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