If you’re like most first-time home buyers, you’ve probably listened to friends’, family’s and coworkers’ advice, many of whom are encouraging you to buy a home. However, you may still wonder if buying a home is the right thing to do. Relax. Having reservations is normal. The more you know about why you should buy a home, the less scary the entire process will appear to you. Here are eight good reasons why you should buy a home.
Pride of Ownership
Pride of ownership is the number one reason why people yearn to own their home. It means you can paint the walls any color you desire, turn up the volume on your CD player, attach permanent fixtures and decorate your home according to your own taste. Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability and security. It’s making an investment in your future.
Although real estate moves in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down, over the years, real estate has consistently appreciated. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight tracks the movements of single family home values across the country. Its House Price Index breaks down the changes by region and metropolitan area. Many people view their home investment as a hedge against inflation.
Mortgage Interest Deductions
Home ownership is a superb tax shelter and our tax rates favor homeowners. As long as your mortgage balance is smaller than the price of your home, mortgage interest is fully deductible on your tax return. Interest is the largest component of your mortgage payment.
Property Tax Deductions
IRS Publication 530 contains tax information for first-time home buyers. Real estate property taxes paid for a first home and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes. While property taxes are collected at the local level, by counties, cities and towns, the rate is capped by the state government, meaning that the local government cannot exceed the maximum. This also means that rates will vary by location, so do your research first to find the lowest rates in the state. Remember, though, that property taxes are the primary means of generating revenue for local use, with much of it going towards education, roads and often emergency services.
Some of the highest state taxes in the country are located in the Northeast, such as New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Lowest rates belong to the Southern states which include Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama and Louisiana. All but five states collect sales tax on purchased items. These exemptions include Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon. For more information on your particular state, go to the official government page found here. Most states do have property tax relief programs in place for those who are struggling to keep up.
Again, programs vary from state-to-state, so it’s worth looking into if you think you may qualify for assistance, credit or a rebate. Read the article, “State Tax – How much will I have to pay if I move to another state? for more state tax information.
Capital Gain Exclusion
As long as you have lived in your home for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains. You do not have to buy a replacement home or move up. There is no age restriction, and the “over-55” rule does not apply. You can exclude the above thresholds from taxes every 24 months, which means you could sell every two years and pocket your profit–subject to limitation–free from taxation.
Preferential Tax Treatment
If you receive more profit than the allowable exclusion upon sale of your home, that profit will be considered a capital asset as long as you owned your home for more than one year. Capital assets receive preferential tax treatment.
Morgage Reduction Builds Equity
Each month, part of your monthly payment is applied to the principal balance of your loan, which reduces your obligation. The way amortization works, the principal portion of your principal and interest payment increases slightly every month. It is lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. On average, each $100,000 of a mortgage will reduce in balance the first year by about $500 in principal, bringing that balance at the end of your first 12 months to $99,500.
Consumers who carry credit card balances cannot deduct the interest paid, which can cost as much as 18% to 22%. Equity loan interest is often much less and it is deductible. For many home owners, it makes sense to pay off this kind of debt with a home equity loan. Consumers can borrow against a home’s equity for a variety of reasons such as home improvement, college, medical or starting a new business. Some state laws restrict home equity loans.
By Elizabeth Weintraub, About.com Guide