You may have heard that buying a house is stressful. From rearranging your schedule and touring properties to forking over your savings to cover the down payment, the process usually comes with its fair share of anxiety provoking moments. The truth is, getting the keys is just the beginning. As a homeowner, you’re on the hook for the upkeep of the property and strapped to a mortgage, which can both be stressors. Why would anyone voluntarily sign up for all of this?
As a homeowner, you may find that you feel more invested in the community where you’ve chosen to put down significant roots.
Owning a home can be rewarding in so many ways – both financially and personally. There’s no doubt that it comes with a few headaches, but for many people the perks make it all worthwhile.
What kind of perks am I talking about? There are a number of advantages to being a homeowner. Some of them may come as a surprise to first-time buyers.
The perks can be broken down into tangible benefits, those that can be tracked and measured in monetary terms, and intangible benefits, which can’t be measured from a financial perspective, but have a positive impact on your life. Let’s take a look.
Tangible Benefits of Owning a Home
Have you ever been caught off guard by a rent hike? Landlords reserve the right to increase the price of your rental at the end of your lease term. Sometimes the hike comes as an unpleasant surprise. By purchasing a home with a fixed mortgage, you can count on more predictable costs related to your housing expenses. Although some aspects related to your homeownership will fluctuate or increase to keep up with inflation (think property taxes), your monthly mortgage payment will remain constant.
As a new homeowner, you can also take advantage of a few home-related tax breaks. If you’ve taken out a mortgage, your biggest break will be reflected in your monthly payment. Most, if not all of the interest you pay towards you loan, is a tax write off. If you plan to purchase and take out a loan that’s more than $750,000, the IRS will put a limit on your deductions, but otherwise the interest is fair game! Although you can’t get out of paying real estate property tax, you can deduct up to $10,000, which is another big win. Additionally, you may be able to get a tax break if you paid points, i.e. fees to the lender at closing to reduce your interest rate.
Speaking of tax breaks, you stand to be sheltered from some serious tax payments when you decide to sell your home. A capital gain occurs when you sell something for more then you spent to acquire it. For example, say you purchased a condo for $200,000 and sold it eight years later for $300,000. After closing costs and real estate agent fees you make a profit of $75,000. If the condo was your primary residence, you are not required to pay taxes on the profit. In most cases, if you occupy the home for two of the last five years before you sell, you can enjoy an exemption on the first $250,0000 you make when you sell and $500,000 if you are married.
Many people refer to a home as the ultimate nest egg. Since housing values tend to appreciate over time, the longer you own a property, the more it should be worth. In many cases, a house (particularly the land it sits on) will increase in value over time if you’re living in an area that is growing economically. In general, most parts of the country see returns from housing that is slightly above inflation, with some areas increasing more rapidly than others.
By consistently paying down your mortgage, you have the opportunity to borrow money on the equity that you’ve built up. A home equity line of credit provides the ultimate rainy day fund, allowing you to finance a large project or undertaking.
Intangible Benefits of Owning a Home
When buyers leave the closing table with the keys to their new home, they feel a huge sense of accomplishment. Saving up for a house and taking the steps to become a homeowner is no small feat. There is something to be said for hitting the milestone. Having pride in ownership is a psychological benefit of owning rather than renting.
Having the ability to customize the place where you live is a huge plus. As a renter, you’d be hard-pressed to find a landlord who allows you to paint your place, never mind tear down walls and do some layout reconfigurations. Unless you purchase a home that’s in a highly regulated association, you’ll have a lot of autonomy to make the space your own. So go ahead, customize until the cows come home!
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning that your landlord can boot you out of your rental whenever your lease runs up. There’s always a chance that you could be forced to relocate, if your landlord wants to renovate, sell, or move into the space. When you own your own property, you can rest easy knowing that you’re in better control of keeping the roof over your head.
As a homeowner, you may find that you feel more invested in the community where you’ve chosen to put down significant roots. After all, as a homeowner you are paying taxes toward your community and can have a voice in how the money is being spent. Communities rely on residents getting involved and helping to drive local initiatives.
Are You Sold?
There are some pretty compelling reasons to buy a property and to be a homeowner – but, it’s not for everyone and timing isn’t always right. You probably shouldn’t justify buying solely to get a tax break. But, if you’re on the fence, perhaps some of these lesser-known perks may sway your decision.