These days, veterans and active duty service members have more reason than ever to consider homeownership. Interest rates are low, homes are cheap and rent continues to climb.
Those who make the move from renter to homeowner stand to gain significantly. By making a smart investment, homeowners can latch onto all kinds of benefits, from emotional rewards to financial returns.
A successful home purchase starts with an experienced agent and a diligent lender. Select your partners carefully, and you’ll soon be raking in the following five benefits:
1. Cheaper to buy than rent
Renting has long been considered a cheap alternative to homeownership. But that reputation is quickly falling by the wayside.
Buying a home is now cheaper than renting in 98 percent of U.S. metropolitan areas, according to a recent Trulia study. Reis, Inc., points out that the national average rent climbed to $1,009 per month in the fourth quarter of 2011, its highest level since 2007.
As rents rise, housing prices continue to lag. The national median existing-home sale price fell to $166,100 in 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. It’s an undeniable buyer’s market out there, making it a great time for renters to jump into homeownership.
Every rent check floats away to a property owner’s bank account, building nothing of value for renters.
Every mortgage payment, on the other hand, helps homeowners build their own equity. Equity is often best left intact, but it can offer a lifeline to homeowners in desperate need of financial help. Home equity loans or lines of credit allow homeowners to tap into their home for much-needed cash or in case of emergency.
For those who made smart initial property investments, equity can bounce back when it’s time to sell. Depending on market conditions, some or all of the stored equity could be recouped in the form of appreciation. Sellers can put those funds toward a new home or a new investment: an opportunity lost to renters.
3. Tax advantages
Deductions and special allowances give homeowners reason to smile once tax time rolls around.
Homeowners get unique tax breaks by staking their property claims. All mortgages involve interest payments, but that interest is tax deductible. Property taxes, some moving expenses and fees paid for “points” on your mortgage can also be deducted.
Profits earned from a home sale are also allowed special tax breaks. Homeowners don’t have to pay taxes on the proceeds from the sale of a home up to $250,000.
Tax rules are complex and full of loopholes, so always get the advice of a real estate attorney or accountant before proceeding.
4. More credit opportunities
Owning a home can also unlock future credit opportunities. Banks and credit card issuers favor those who own a home, which is why it’s common to see “Do you rent or own a home?” on credit and loan applications.
The ability to take on more debt shouldn’t be the reason you buy a home. But it’s important to recognize that homeowners receive favorable treatment from other lenders. Keep that in mind if you plan on starting a business or investing in other properties down the road.
5. Freedom and flexibility
There’s also a huge emotional reward derived from owning real estate. Free from landlord restrictions and rental policies, homeowners relish in the possibilities that lie in every nook and cranny.
Homeownership provides the freedom and flexibility to adapt a space to any need. Homeowners are free to revamp a backyard for Yorkies or a playroom for grandkids without fear of landlord reprisal.
Military renters who are considering a home purchase need two military-friendly allies at the ready: a skilled real estate agent and an efficient and experienced lender.
Consult with fellow military homebuyers to locate a VA-savvy real estate agent, or check with Veterans United Realty for specific, local recommendations.
If you’re utilizing your VA loan benefits, we recommend our partners at Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s number one dedicated VA lender. You can reach a VA loan specialist at 855-870-8845 or at Veterans United.com.
Photo courtesy of drothamel