Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Three Important Benefits of HR 3221

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 is a $300 Billion rescue plan aimed at helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. Although the bill is several hundred pages long and contains a number of far-reaching provisions, here are the top three changes that may benefit you:

1. Tax credits. First-time home buyers who purchase their primary residence between April 8, 2008 and July 1, 2009 are eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credit, provided they haven't owned a home in the last three years and fit certain income parameters. The credit is generous, but it is actually an interest-free loan that is paid back over 15 years at $500 per year when taxes are filed.

2. Larger loans at lower rates. This is a great benefit for homeowners with "jumbo" mortgages, which range between $417,000 and $625,000. If you are considering purchasing a home in that price range, this provision may be ideal for you. Please call or email to schedule a meeting to discuss your options.

3. FHA Hope for Homeowners. This provision is designed to help homeowners who are "upside down" on their mortgage - that is, people who owe more on their house than they can sell it for in today's market. Essentially, this plan allows borrowers who meet specific requirements to refinance their mortgages to new 30-year fixed FHA mortgages. If you're upside down on your mortgage and struggling in today's economy, this is an option worth exploring.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Renters Have Much to Gain by Pursuing Home Ownership

Buying a home vs. renting is a big decision that takes careful consideration, as most mortgage consultants & realtors will agree. But the rewards of home ownership are great. For many years, purchasing real estate has been considered an extremely profitable investment. It is an achievement that offers a sense of pride, financial stability and potential tax advantages.

Yes, there are certain responsibilities associated with owning a home. Landlords will often argue the benefits of renting, and for obvious reason. If you are renting, you're helping them make their mortgage payment.

The numbers are staggering if you look at it this way. If you are paying $1,000 per month for an apartment, and you know your rent will increase 5% every year, then over the next five years you will pay your landlord $66,309. If you are currently renting a house, you may be paying much more than that each month. Either way, you gain no equity by shelling out this monthly housing expense and you certainly won't benefit when the property value goes up!

However, if you were to purchase your own home or condominium, you would be well on your way toward building equity within that same five-year period. By choosing a fixed-rate loan program, you can have the comfort of knowing that your monthly mortgage payment will never go up. In fact, you would have the option of refinancing to a lower interest rate at some point in the future should interest rates drop, and this would cause your monthly mortgage commitment to go down.

In addition to building equity, there are tax advantages that come into play with home ownership. Depending on your tax bracket, owning a home is often less expensive than renting after taxes. Interest payments on a mortgage below $1 million are tax-deductible, and your mortgage consultant should help you evaluate the tax advantages of various loan scenarios.

There are many different types of loan programs available, including "low" and "no" down payment mortgage programs. These types of programs require the borrower to provide less than 3 percent of the loan amount as down payment.

Housing is an expense that takes a big bite out of the monthly budget. If you are a renter and feel that "home" is more than just someplace to hang your hat, think about the advantages of purchasing real estate. It may be time to take the step into building your personal net worth as a home owner.