The American Dream
Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions, both financially and emotionally, you will make in your lifetime.
If you’re a first-time buyer, you’re probably thrilled about making the jump from apartment renting to owning your own house. While you’re excited, however, you also may be a bit overwhelmed by the procedures involved. Relocating or move-up buyers have the advantage of past experience, but still might need a refresher course on the intricacies of the process.
The buying process involves several steps, from finding a REALTOR® to making an offer to closing the deal. Whether you’re a first-time or experienced buyer, you’ll find an array of information in this section that will assist you on your way to realizing your goal of homeownership.
Your home is your castle and your comfort zone. It’s where you share smiles, tears, and the occasional holiday dinner. It’s where neighbors become friends and family becomes closer. Homes are where we make memories, share moments, and sometimes, burn popcorn.
- The American Dream
- Are You Ready to Buy?
- Credit Information
- Beginning Your Home Search
- The Transaction from Start to Finish
- Obtaining a Mortgage Loan
- Home Buying Checklist
For the vast majority of us, owning a home is part of the American Dream. According to a study conducted by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, 87 percent of those polled cited owning a home as the number one criterion for defining “the good life.” Owners and renters alike considered homeownership desirable for the following reasons: the pride of ownership, their dislike of paying rent, and the ability to change features of their homes to match their individual tastes and needs. In addition, owning your own home provides a sense of security and well-being that’s hard to beat. Home is where we raise our families, have friends over for summer barbecues, paint the baby’s room pink or blue, and find refuge from the outside world. Owning a home offers other advantages as well. For instance, as a homeowner, you have control over your environment. Not only can you change your home to meet your needs, but you also aren’t subject to the terms of a lease or a landlord. As a homeowner, you can experience the emotional and financial security that comes from knowing what your housing expenses will be from year to year. Unlike rents, which can increase annually, most mortgages have fixed or capped monthly payments. So, as a homeowner, you can have a much better idea of what proportion of your paycheck goes toward your home. Think of it as the ultimate savings plan.
And it only gets better. Homeownership is the primary component in the creation of wealth for many Americans. Data from Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies illustrate not only that the median net wealth of homeowners is 34 times greater than that of renters, but also that over half of that wealth is generated from home equity. As you pay down your loan amount each month, you accumulate equity, a growing ownership interest in your property. If you need funds, you can borrow against this equity in the form of a home equity loan. Further, interest on a portion of home equity is tax-deductible. Most homes appreciate in value over time and can be a source of income for you, especially if you’ve lived in your house for many years. When you retire, you can sell your home if you need the funds or make use of a home equity conversion mortgage. Finally, don’t forget about the significant tax advantages of owning your home. Interest on a home mortgage and property taxes are deductible. For most of us, mortgage interest provides the largest tax deduction. Also, a home is the single most important factor that determines whether you will be able to file a return that takes advantage of the wide range of allowable itemized deductions.
Homebuying Means Getting Back to the Basics
Recently, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® surveyed homebuyers to find out what they considered to be important in the purchase of their homes. The largest percentage, 27 percent, considered the mere ownership of a home as the most important reason to buy. Moving to a better neighborhood (17 percent), wanting a larger home (10 percent), and realizing the tax advantages of homeownership (8 percent) were other reasons cited for buying homes. Seven percent focused on investment value as their primary motivation for homeownership.
Over the years, your home likely will be the best investment you’ll ever make. But more importantly, it will be the place that offers you and your family shelter, security and stability. That’s some return on investment.