(StatePoint) Better employment prospects, rising home values and historically low mortgage rates are driving improvements in housing markets across the country. If these facts are tempting you to take the plunge, you’re not alone.
Keep in mind, buying a home is a major commitment and shouldn’t be undertaken without careful consideration, say experts.
“While homeownership is often referred to as the ‘American Dream’ for good reason, it isn’t necessarily everyone’s right move,” says Freddie Mac Senior Vice President and Head of Single-Family Sales and Relationship Management, Christina Boyle.
Understanding the pros and cons of homeownership can help you make a wise decision. For potential home buyers, Boyle offers the following insights:
From paint colors to major remodeling projects, one of the best parts of ownership is having a place that is uniquely yours to customize.
Consider the financial benefits, as well. At tax time, you may be able to deduct the interest on your mortgage and property taxes, offsetting a portion of the cost of ownership.
Stability is another major draw. With fixed-rate mortgages, your monthly principal and interest payments will stay the same for the entire period of the loan. This will make it easier to plan and budget over time, as opposed to renting, where rates are largely beyond your control. Furthermore, creating equity for the future will help provide stability and security for your family.
Being your own landlord makes you responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of your property. Budget for maintenance costs -- from little fixes to such major, costly issues as roof replacement and water pipe repair.
Other home-related costs to keep in mind include utilities, homeowner association dues, homeowner insurance premiums and property taxes. Just like with your rent, your mortgage and utilities should be paid on time. This will help you maintain good credit and is essential if you want to borrow again in the future for home renovations, new cars or student loans.
An honest self-assessment can help you determine if buying a home is right for you. Do you have a reliable income, good credit and documentation to verify your savings? Do you have the money required for home maintenance and a cash reserve that can withstand a loss of job, illness or other financial setback?
Freddie Mac recommends that potential buyers be able to afford at least three-percent of the down payment and related closing costs. Also, evaluate your life plans. Are you planning on staying in your home for at least five years?
Crunch the Numbers
Free online tools can help you get down to brass tacks. For a rent vs. buy calculator, a tax savings calculator, as well as tips, videos and tutorials needed to make well informed decisions, check out “My Home,” at MyHome.FreddieMac.com, a one-stop reference designed to help people become smarter homebuyers, homeowners or renters.
Before taking any major plunge, get informed. An honest appraisal of the facts and figures can ensure a sounder financial future.