The King + Miller team has had the joy of working with countless first-time homebuyers. They're usually equal parts nervous and excited, and they never know quite what to expect. If this sounds like you, read on for common questions gleaned from our many years of experience. And then contact us so you can focus on the excited part while we take care of the nerve-racking details!
Is it Worth It to Buy a Home?
"You should buy a home." That's what you've been hearing from friends and family, right? But is it really the best choice for you? Here are some of the best reasons to own a home:
Pride of Ownership
Pride of ownership is the number one reason why people yearn to own a home. It means you can paint the walls any color you desire, turn up the volume on your CD player, attach permanent fixtures and decorate your home according to your own taste. Home ownership gives you and your family a sense of stability and security. It's an investment in your future.
Although real estate moves in cycles, sometimes up, sometimes down, over the years, real estate has consistently appreciated. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight tracks the movements of single family home values across the country. Its House Price Index breaks down the changes by region and metropolitan area. Many people view their home investment as a hedge against inflation.
Home ownership is a superb tax shelter. As long as your mortgage balance is smaller than the price of your home, mortgage interest is fully deductible on your tax return, which is great since interest is the largest component of your mortgage payment! IRS Publication 530 contains tax information for first-time home buyers. In addition, real estate property taxes paid for a first home and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.
Capital Gains Exclusion
When you eventually sell your home, as long as you have lived in it for two of the past five years, you can exclude up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for a married couple of profit from capital gains. You do not have to buy a replacement home or move up. There's no age restriction, and the "over-55" rule does not apply. You can exclude the above thresholds from taxes every 24 months, which means you could sell every two years and pocket your profit (subject to limitation) free from taxation. If you happen to receive more profit than the allowable exclusion upon sale of your home, that profit will be considered a capital asset as long as you owned your home for more than one year. Capital assets receive preferential tax treatment.
Morgage Reduction Builds Equity
Each month, part of your monthly payment is applied to the principal balance of your loan, which reduces your obligation. The way amortization works, the principal portion of your principal and interest payment increases slightly every month. It's lowest on your first payment and highest on your last payment. On average, each $100,000 of a mortgage will reduce in balance the first year by about $500 in principal, bringing that balance at the end of your first 12 months to $99,500.
How Do I Find What I Want?
Almost 80% of all home searches today begin on the Internet. With just a few clicks of the mouse, home buyers can search through hundreds of online listings, view virtual tours, and sort through dozens of photographs and aerial shots of neighborhoods and homes. One of the best ways to find what you want with little time and effort on your part is to fill out our free, no-obligation Dream Home Finder form. Once you do that, the listings will start to come to you!
How Long Should It Take to Find What I Want?
With the help of a good buyer's agent, a motivated buyer will usually find a home within two to three weeks! Good real estate agents will listen to your wants and needs and arrange to show only those homes that fit your particular parameters. The best agents, like those with The Bridget King Team, also preview homes before showing them to you.
How Many Homes Will I See?
The average number of homes that we show to a buyer in one day is seven. Any more than that, and the brain is on overload! So don't expect to see 20 or 30 homes; although it's physically possible to do so, you probably won't remember specific details about any of them. To make the tours go as well as possible, lay off the soft drinks and have a hearty meal of carbs before venturing out with your realtor. Studies show that the your memory dramatically improves after consumption of carbs and slows upon consuming sugar. And, yes, this is one situation where you want your brain to be in full gear!
The "Red Shoes" Experience
Shoe lovers will relate to this. Say, you need a new pair of red shoes. You go to the mall. At the first shoe store, you find a fabulous pair of red shoes. You try them on. They fit perfectly. They are glamorous. Priced right, too. Do you buy them? Of course not! You go to every other store in the mall trying on red shoes until you are ready to drop from exhaustion. Then you return to the first store and buy those red shoes. Do not shop for a home this way. When you find the perfect home, buy it.
How Do I Narrow Down the Choices?
- Ask to see the virtual tour of the homes you like the best before you actually go to the house. Then afterward, review the video again.
- Take copious notes of unusual features, colors and design elements while in the home.
- Pay attention to the home's surroundings. What is next door? Do 2-story homes tower over your single story?
- Do you like the location? Is it near a park or a power plant?
- What features of the house turn you off? No matter how much you "love" the house, be honest! The things you notice now will be the same features people will be concerned about when you eventually try to sell it. Better to be honest with yourself now (when it's someone else's home to sell) than later (when it's yours!).
- Immediately after leaving, rate each home on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
- View Top Choices a Second Time: After touring homes for a few days, you' ll probably instinctively know which one or two homes you would like to buy. Ask to see them again. You will see them with different eyes and notice elements that were overlooked the first go-round. At this point, your agent should call the listing agents to find out more about the sellers' motivation and to double-check that an offer hasn't come in, making sure these homes are still available to purchase.
How Do I Make a Final Selection?
I'll let you in on a little secret: I generally know which home a buyer is going to choose, and I suspect most other agents feel the same way. It's an intuition. But I make it a practice not to steer buyers, and I insist that buyers choose the home without interference from me. It's not my choice to make. Real estate agents are required, however, to point out defects and should help buyers feel confident that the home selected meets the buyer's search parameters.