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Great Reasons To Buy A Home Now
Start Planning To Purchase A Home

If you've ever thought about buying a home, but decided that it was too big a financial gamble, think again. It's possible you haven't considered the risk of not buying a home. For the majority of working people, home ownership is the single most reliable way to achieve financial security. Without it, you may find it almost impossible to gain access to the kind of capital you'll need to support yourself in your later years, pay for your chldren's education or start a new business.

Home ownership among young Americans has dropped alarmingly in recent years. In 1980, 52 percent of all 25 to 34 year-olds owned a home. By 1990, only 45 percent did, and among 34 to 44 year-olds, home ownership had dropped from 71 percent to 66 percent. According to Katherine S. Newman, author of Declining Fortunes: The Withering of the American Dream (Basic Books), those who don't get into the housing market by a certain age may have made "a misstep that will dog their heels for the rest of their lives." The primary reason for the decline in ownership among the young is cost. The price of housing more than doubled between 1975 and 1985, and mortgage interest rates skyrocketed.

Fortunately, the pendulum has swung back. Since 1991, overall housing prices have remained stable, though in some areas of the country they have fallen by as much as 25 to 30 percent, and mortgage interest rates have dropped dramatically. But if, like many young people, you grew up in an overheated housing market, you may continue to think of home ownership as something beyond your reach. Here's why that attitude could be a big mistake.

1. You may wait a long time to see rates this low again. Mary recently saw a house selling for $125,000. She has $20,000 in savings to use as a down payment; a $105,000 30-year mortgage at 7.5 percent would cost her $733 a month, and she might have another $150 a month in real estate taxes, for a total of $883.

Mary is hesitating: $883 feels like a stretch for her now, since she's paying only $650 for her rent. But if she waits, and prices and mortgage rates rebound to the levels of five years ago, the exact same home might cost her $150,000, and she could be paying a 9 percent interest rate. The bottom line: She would be stuck with mortgage and tax payments of $1,190 - almost twice her current rent - for exactly the same home.

2. Renting deprives you of big tax breaks. Home ownership is one of the last remaining tax shelters. In the example above, Mary would be able to deduct about $9,300 in mortgage interest and real estate taxes on her annual tax return. She earns $30,000 a year, which puts her in the combined 31 percent federal and state tax bracket. Therefore, her tax savings could come to about $2,900 a year, or almost an additional $250 in take-home pay each month. If she rents, she'll get no tax breaks whatsoever.

3. You need to start small to trade up. You may feel that there will be plenty of time to get into the housing market when you feel financially secure. The problem is, you'll probably need the profit you'll make by selling your "starter" house to be able to afford the one that you'll want in the future.

Between 1968 and 1992, the median price of a single-family home rose an average of 6 percent a year, according to the National Association of Realtors; over longer periods, the increase has been between 3 and 4 percent. That's great - if you buy early and hang on to your purchase. If you don't, you'll have to keep up with those increases through other investments, which is generally difficult to do.

4. Your future is going to be expensive. Financial experts generally suggest that to retire, you'll need to build up enough in savings and investments to generate yearly income of 70 percent of your preretirement income. That's a tall order - and a reason to start amassing some serious capital soon.

I also have a Free report "Buying your First Home" available by email.

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