Robert S. Soltz CRS, GRI, CBR's Blog
Buying your first home is a big decision; one that involves a lengthy process of saving money, building credit, and planning the next phase of your life. However, owning a home comes with one major payoff: home equity.
Simply put, home equity is the amount of your home that you’ve paid off. However, it does get more complicated when we bring in factors like the market value of your home and how it shifts over the years.
In this article, we’ll discuss home equity and what it means for you as a homeowner. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect when you finally make that last payment on your home or when you decide to sell.
Home equity and market value
As I mentioned earlier, home equity is more than just the amount you’ve paid toward your mortgage. Like most markets, the housing market shifts over time.
Most homes slowly increase in value over time. In the real estate world, this increase in value is called appreciation.
However, that doesn’t mean that your home is simply going to increase in value indefinitely until you decide to sell. As you will find out (if you haven’t yet already), owning a home can be expensive. Houses age and require upgrades. If you fail to keep up with the maintenance of your home, its value can diminish.
How to build equity
The most important thing you can do to build equity is to make on-time payments to your mortgage. Making extra mortgage payments will help you build equity even faster.
One method of paying extra on your mortgage that many people are adopting is to make bi-weekly payments. Twenty-six bi-weekly payments comes out to 13 full payments per year, the equivalent of making one full extra monthly payment.
The second method of building equity is something that you have less control over: appreciation. However, if you stick to a maintenance schedule for your home and keep it in good repair, you’ll most likely benefit from appreciation over the lifespan of your mortgage.
What can I use home equity for?
The most common way to use home equity is as a down payment or full payment on your next home. First-time buyers who don’t have a 20% down payment saved often buy a starter home and then later upgrade as their family grows and their needs change. In the years that they own their first home, they build enough equity to make a full down payment on their second home, avoiding fees like mortgage insurance.
Many homeowners planning on retiring in the near future use their equity toward their retirement home, often turning a profit in the process. If you plan on downgrading for retirement and have fully paid off your mortgage, you can often use your equity to pay for your next home in cash.
Adding your house to the real estate market today may prove to be a great decision. In fact, there are many terrific reasons to list your home today, including:
1. You may be able to generate a profit on your house.
If you maintained your home over the years, the residence may have increased in value. Thus, you may be better equipped than other home sellers to generate a profit on your residence.
Furthermore, if you're preparing to enter a seller's market, you may be able to earn a significant profit in no time at all.
A seller's market frequently includes an abundance of homebuyers and a shortage of home sellers. As such, if you add a high-quality house to a seller's market, it may be only a matter of time before you receive multiple offers at or above your initial asking price.
2. You can downsize your home or upgrade to a larger residence.
Although your current residence may have served you well for an extended period of time, now may prove to be a great time for a change. Fortunately, if you add your house to the real estate market, you can take the next step to downsize your residence or upgrade to a larger residence.
For those who want to downgrade, it may be simple to sell a house and get rid of excess items at the same time. Then, you can relocate to a smaller residence that better suits your budget and personal needs.
On the other hand, those who want to move into a bigger and better residence can explore a vast array of residences any time they choose. After a home seller finds a buyer for his or her residence, this individual will have plenty of funds to pursue a superior residence as well.
3. You can embark on a new adventure.
Selling a home opens new doors for any individual, at any time.
For example, you can use the funds from your home sale to go on a cross-country journey. Or, you may choose to move closer to family members and friends in another area of the country. Regardless of which option you choose, you won't have to worry about being saddled to a home mortgage after you sell your residence.
Consider the short- and long-term ramifications of selling your house, along with what you'll do immediately following a home sale. By doing so, you can map out the next stage of your life.
Of course, if you ever have concerns or questions about selling a house, it is always best to consult with a real estate agent. With a housing market professional at your side, you can receive expert insights throughout the home selling journey.
A real estate agent will keep you up to date about offers on your house and offer honest, unbiased home selling recommendations. In addition, he or she is ready to respond to your home selling queries at any time.
Get ready to sell your home – meet with a real estate agent, and you can take the next step to add your residence to the real estate market.
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If you are thinking of buying your first home, you’re thinking of making the single biggest purchase of your entire lifetime. Real estate is complex. From getting finances in order to understanding the entire process to securing the home you love, there’s so much that you’ll need to know when it comes to buying your first home.
What Is A Down Payment?
A down payment is a one-time cash payment that you’ll provide at the closing table when you buy a home. How much your down payment is will have an effect on how much your monthly mortgage payment will be. It will also affect your initial home equity value.
Should You Keep Renting?
First, you’ll need to think of a savings goal and a timeline. The general rule is that if you own a home for at least 5 years, you have gotten your “money’s worth” out of the closing costs and the fees you paid at the time you purchased your home. If you don’t think you’ll stay in a home for at least 5 years before making another move, you may want to consider renting until you know where you want to settle.
What Can You Afford?
You’ll need to calculate just how much home you can afford. Look at potential monthly mortgage payments plus taxes, fees, insurance, utilities and other monthly expenses that you have.
In dual-income households, it’s nice if the living expenses can be covered just by one person’s paycheck. Once you have an idea of your budget, you can price out homes that will meet your needs and be in your price range.
Why You Should Save More
The best practice in buying a home is to put 20% down on the house. With this sizable down payment, it will be easier to get approved for a mortgage. You’ll also avoid needing PMI (private mortgage insurance.) This is an additional cost for people who put down less than a 20% down payment. This can cost you a lot of money each month, so it’s best to save as much as you can for that initial down payment.
Don’t be discouraged. You can still buy a home with a lower percentage of a down payment, but you’ll have to pay for the PMI and include the additional expense in your budget. The Federal Housing Administration has many different options available that allow you to put a smaller down payment on a home, so do your homework.
How To Save
Once you get an idea of about how much you’ll spend on your home, you need to take action and start saving. There are many ways that you can save automatically without even thinking about it. You can choose a fixed amount or percentage of your paycheck and save it automatically into the house fund. Save as much as you can so you’ll be able to make your home purchase more quickly. You may even want to consider putting your money into a money market account for a higher return on your savings once you reach a certain goal.
Don’t Forget To Save Your Bonuses
Whether you have received a gift or a sizable Christmas bonus, make sure that you put that money away towards your home purchase. Every little bit helps. While we may have an inclination to want to spend the money on more immediate things, you’ll be happy that you saved your money when you head to purchase your house!
Use Your IRA
The IRS allows a tax benefit for first time home buyers. You can take out up to $10,000 out of your IRA or Roth IRA for a first time home purchase. Your Roth IRA account must be at least 5 years old in order for you to do this. Distributions from this account are tax-free, but you’ll need to pay tax if you withdraw form a traditional IRA. You should discuss any withdrawals that you do make with your financial advisor and your tax advisor. This could be an opportunity for you to build your wealth in a new way, so make an informed decision.
Happy saving and happy house hunting!