Recently, Freddie Mac reported on the benefits of homeownership. According to their report, here are the five benefits that “should be at the top of everyone’s list.”
- Homeownership can help you build equity over time.
- Your monthly payments will remain stable.
- You may have some tax benefits.
- You can take pride in ownership.
- Homeownership improves your community.
Let’s expand on each of Freddie Mac’s points:
Homeownership can help you build equity over time.
Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts a Survey of Consumer Finances in which they collect data across all economic and social groups. The latest survey, which includes data from 2010-2013, reports that a homeowner’s net worth is 36 times greater than that of a renter ($194,500 vs. $5,400).
In a Forbes article, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun reported that now the net worth gap is 45 times greater.
Your monthly payments will remain stable.
When you purchase a home with a fixed rate mortgage, the majority of the payment (principle and interest) remain constant. On the other hand, rents continue to skyrocket. Your housing expense is much more stable if you own instead of rent.
You may have some tax benefits.
According to the Tax Policy Center’s Briefing Book -“A citizen’s guide to the fascinating (though often complex) elements of the federal Tax System” – there are several tax advantages to homeownership.
Here are four items from the Briefing Book:
- Mortgage Interest Deduction
- Property Tax Deduction
- Imputed Rent
- Profits from Home Sale
You can take pride in ownership.
Most surveys show that a major factor in purchasing a home is the freedom you have to design the home the way you want. From paint colors to yard accessories, you don’t need a landlord’s permission to make the house feel like a home.
Homeownership improves your community.
The National Association of Realtors recently released a study titled ‘Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing.’ The study explained:
“Homeownership does create social capital and provide residents with a platform from which to connect and interact with neighbors…Owning a home means owning part of a neighborhood, and a homeowner’s feelings of commitment to the home can arouse feelings of commitment to the neighborhood, which, in turn, can produce interactions with neighbors.”
There are many benefits to homeownership. That is why it is still a critical piece of the American Dream.
In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.
If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.
Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth, as compared to an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home.
Bill Banfield, VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges anyone looking to buy or sell in today’s market to remember the impact of this challenge:
“While a 1 or 2 percent difference in home value opinions may not seem like a lot, it could be enough to derail a mortgage.
A homeowner [or a buyer] could be forced to bring more cash to closing in order to make a mortgage work if the appraisal is lower than expected. On the other hand, if an appraisal comes in higher, they could be surprised with more equity than they had planned. Either way, if owners are aware of their local markets it will lead to smoother mortgage transactions.”
The chart below illustrates the changes in home price estimates over the last 12 months.
Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a prospective buyer and then to the bank (through the bank’s appraisal). With escalating prices, the second sale might be even more difficult than the first. If you are planning on entering the housing market this year, let’s get together to discuss this and any other obstacle that may arise.
Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which has given many buyers relief from rising home prices and has helped with affordability. Experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017 and will be about three-quarters of a percentage point higher, at 4.5%, by the end of 2018.
Last week’s Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealed that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have fallen to their lowest mark this year, at 3.88%. This is great news for homebuyers looking to purchase and homeowners looking to refinance.
The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home.
Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.
Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.
Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.
Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:
“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”
One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.”
Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:
- Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
- Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
- Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
- Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time
Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.
Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.
- Historically, the choice between renting or buying a home has been a tough decision.
- Looking at the percentage of income needed to rent a median-priced home today (29.2%) vs. the percentage needed to buy a median-priced home (15.8%), the choice becomes obvious.
- Every market is different. Before you renew your lease again, find out if you can put your housing costs to work by buying this year!
We often discuss the difference in family wealth between homeowner households and renter households. Much of that difference is the result of the equity buildup that homeowners experience over the time that they own their home. In a report recently released by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), they reveal how valuable equity can be in retirement planning.
Craig Copeland, Senior Research Associate at EBRI, recently authored a report, Importance of Individual Account Retirement Plans and Home Equity in Family Total Wealth, in which he reveals:
“Individual account retirement plan assets, plus home equity, represent almost all of what families have to use for retirement expenses outside of Social Security and traditional pensions. Those families without individual account assets typically have very low overall assets, so they have almost nothing to draw from for retirement expenses.”
The report echoed the findings of a working paper, Home Equity Patterns among Older American Households, authored by Barbara Butrica and Stipica Mudrazija of Urban Institute. Fannie Mae highlighted these findings for their blog The Home Story this past winter, quoting Butrica and Mudrazija:
“For most adults near traditional retirement age, a home is their most valuable asset — dwarfing retirement accounts, other financial assets, and other nonfinancial assets. Although relatively few retirees tap into their home equity, having it provides financial security… In fact, many retirement security experts argue that the conventional three-legged stool of retirement resources — Social Security, pensions, and savings — is incomplete because it ignores the home.”
USAToday interviewed two area experts to comment on the EBRI report. Randy Bruns, a private wealth adviser with HighPoint Planning Partners, agreed with the findings:
“Social Security and home equity are major pieces of the retirement puzzle.”
Wade Pfau, Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and author of “Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement,” said having the equity without a plan to use it won’t help:
“Home equity is a very important asset for American retirees, and so it is important to think about how to make best use of home equity in retirement planning.”
Whether you use the equity in your home through a reverse mortgage or by selling and downsizing to a less expensive home, it should be a crucial piece of your retirement planning.