Homeownership is the most important investment most Americans make. From “a place to call home” to “there’s no place like home,” there is something in our soul that makes homeownership the most valuable asset we own — and one of the central achievements that are part of the American dream.
To many people, buying a house is a milestone they aspire to. Like any major decision, though, the home-buying journey comes with its own set of advantages and challenges that can impact your personal finances. When you own a home, you get to remodel it and adapt it to your lifestyle. You can sell it and benefit from equity. But you also have responsibilities and expenses tied to the house.
Perhaps you are thinking about making a large financial decision, like moving to another location for work, thinking about starting a family, or are just researching before purchasing a home.
While trading rent for mortgage payments is a big financial move, you can save thousands of dollars if you find the right house in the housing market. There are plenty of benefits to being a homeowner, but there are also things to look out for.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of owning a home.
Pros of Homeownership
One of the most significant benefits of owning a home is the opportunity to build equity — the home’s value minus what you owe. As you pay down your mortgage and your property value appreciates, your equity increases, which can be a valuable financial asset. You can get home equity loans or personal loans to renovate your home, invest for your retirement, or take a year off work if you need to.
You can also use that built-in equity to buy a larger home or one that’s more centrally located. The extra equity can provide the down payment for your new home and help you lower your overall mortgage payments in the future.
Stability and security
Homeownership offers a sense of stability and security, as you settle and can create long-term relations with the local community.
Furthermore, when you become a homeowner, you have the freedom to make any changes to the space your own without worries about lease expirations. You also have the assurance of a consistent living arrangement without stressing about the landlord asking to raise the rent.
As the owner of your home, if you want to remodel your kitchen, you can do it your way. Do you want to knock down that wall in the kitchen to have a more open and welcoming floor plan? You can certainly do so as nothing is stopping you, as long as it’s allowed by the building department.
Homeownership means you can adapt your home to your needs and your household’s lifestyle without asking permission.
Potential tax benefits
Home buyers may benefit from tax deductions such as mortgage interest and property tax deductions, which can provide significant financial benefits. Mortgage interest is deductible for homes up to $750,000 in value. Property taxes are also deductible up to $10,000.
This means you can claim a homeowner’s tax credit and get some additional money back on your tax returns. So, while you may have paid a bit of money on home improvements or remodeling this year, you can most likely see a lot of that coming back to you during tax season.
A long-term investment
Look at your home as an investment property. Real estate is historically a stable long-term investment. Over time, homes generally appreciate in value, offering a potentially lucrative return when you decide to sell. While the property market can be sometimes volatile, long-term trends benefit the home buyer.
Privacy and independence
Owning a home provides a level of privacy and independence that renting a home simply can’t match. When you buy a home of your own, you have more control over your living environment.
Cons of Homeownership
Unlike renting, homeowners are responsible for all regular service, repairs, and maintenance. This can be time-consuming and costly, especially for unexpected issues like plumbing or electrical problems. You have the responsibility to maintain your home, mow the lawn, paint it, and repair the HVAC if it fails.
When you apply for a mortgage loan to buy a house, you are not only committing to repay the home purchase price. The initial costs that you need to pay — including the down payment, closing costs, loan fees, and moving expenses — can be substantial.
Closing costs for a home are $6,000 on average while down payments, even at 3.5% of the home value, can still be significant.
Homebuyers must have a good credit score to avoid paying a large down payment. They must also have money aside to cover the costs of homeownership during the buying process. This is one factor you need to consider before deciding to apply for a home loan.
Property taxes and insurance
One of the significant cons of buying a home is that homeowners are required to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance, which can be considerable annual or monthly expenses.
If you put less than 20% down payment, you are required to pay private mortgage insurance, which adds to your monthly mortgage payment.
Lack of flexibility
Selling a home can be a lengthy process, which means homeowners have less flexibility to relocate compared to renters. If you sell your current home to buy a new one in a different area you will end up paying for the appraisal, inspection, and closing costs again.
This can be a disadvantage for those with careers or lifestyles that require or benefit from mobility. It’s much easier to move from rent than to sell your home.
While real estate typically appreciates over time, the market can fluctuate. There’s always a risk that your home’s value could decrease due to factors beyond your control, such as economic downturns or changes in the neighborhood. Also, home equity builds up over time. Your home’s value won’t appreciate overnight so you might need to wait before you can tap on positive equity.
Interest rates may also fluctuate beyond your control. If you buy a home with a variable rate home loan, you may benefit from an interest rate decrease, or you could face a loan rate increase that could impact your monthly mortgage payments and monthly budget.
Society Mortgage for Homeownership
Homeownership is a significant commitment that helps you access the property ladder.
Owning a home means you have stability and you build up equity which you can use in the future. There is also a sense of pride in owning your home, as it gives you the freedom and independence to adjust it to your living standards.
However, before you sign for your own home, there are a few things to consider. Homeownership comes with maintenance and repairs, responsibilities, upfront costs, and potential market risks. If your job requires you to move locations frequently, homeownership might be more of a burden than a joy. Also, if you don’t enjoy home maintenance tasks, you will need to hire professionals — which will cost you money when your HVAC fails or if you have a plumbing emergency.
Like any major life decision, careful consideration and thorough planning will help you evaluate your lifestyle and your financial situation to establish whether you should buy or rent and whether homeownership is a good fit for you.
Our home loan consultants at Society Mortgage are always available to provide any information you need to explore your mortgage loan options. Talk to a mortgage loan officer today — we’ll be happy to guide you in taking the next steps toward acquiring your dream place to live.