Start Early and Live Happily Ever-after

As storybooks go, the character is introduced, they meet their love interest, a villain thwarts their intentions, true love overcomes, they marry and live happily ever-after.  It’s a very familiar formula.

Similarly, there is a formula that couples follow in real life.  They go to college, get a good job, rent a home, fall in love, get married and buy a starter home.  They start a family, move into a larger home, save for their children’s education, start planning for their retirement and if they live within their means, they invest their surplus funds.

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An alternative to this might be to start investing in rental homes early in their adult life before their standard of living becomes so expensive that they don’t feel like they have the money to purchase rentals.  There are infinite possibilities but let’s say a single person, after getting a good job, buys a small three or four-bedroom home with an owner-occupied, minimum down payment.  They move into the home and possibly, rent out the bedrooms to other singles who need a place to live.

At some point, they decide to buy another home to live in with a minimum down payment and either rent out their bedroom in the first home or rent the whole home to a tenant.  And they repeat the process again with the second home.

This could continue until they acquired several homes.  Let’s say, that in the meantime, they have met their love interest, decide to get married and together, they buy a starter home for them to live in.

This concept advances the investment in rental homes from the latter part of their lives to the early part of their life.  The early investment gives them more time for appreciation and wealth accumulation.  A simple principle of investing is that sooner is better than later.  By delaying gratification to own your “dream home” early, a person may be able to accumulate more net worth in the same period of time.

Buying a property initially as owner-occupied permits a lower down payment of 3.5% compared to a typical down payment for non-owner-occupied properties is 20%.  By using more borrowed funds, leverage can increase the yield on the investment.

It may be too late for some people reading this article to adopt this strategy but if they have kids in college, it may be something for them to consider.

Its Not Just the Tax Benefits

When the standard deduction for married couples filing jointly was increased from $12,700 to $24,000 for 2018, there was some speculation that the bloom was off the rose of homeownership.  The thought was that if the tax benefits from being able to deduct the property taxes and interest was less than the standard deduction, that maybe, the buyer would be better off continuing to rent.

With mortgage rates as low as they have been for the past eight years, payments have been lower and so has the amount interest that was paid.  This and the fact that sales and local taxes, which include property taxes, are limited to $10,000 a year on the Itemized Deduction form have made it harder to reach the increased standard deduction.

The reality of the situation is tax benefits are only one of the components that make a home an excellent investment and it probably contributes the least of the top three benefits.  Principal reduction and appreciation build an owner’s equity in an automatic way that is like a forced savings account.

In today’s market, it is common for the total house payment to be lower than the rent a first-time home buyer is currently paying.  As a homeowner, the buyer would have additional expenses like maintenance and possibly, a HOA.

To illustrate the net effect, let’s look at a purchase price of $275,000 with 3.5% down payment on a 4.75% 30-year FHA loan.  We’ll assume the home appreciates at 3% annually and the buyer is currently paying $2,000 a month rent.

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The total payment is $2,115 including principal, interest, property taxes, property and mortgage insurance. However, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, appreciation, maintenance and HOA, the net cost of housing is $1,181. It costs $819 more a month to rent than to own. In a year’s time, it would cost $9,831 more to rent than to own which is more than the down payment required to buy the home.

In seven-years, the $9,625 down payment would grow to over $58,000 in equity.  The equity build-up far exceeds the tax benefits which some people would have as an additional incentive.  Use this Rent vs. Own to see what the net cost of housing would be using a home in your price range or call me at (864) 400-9974 and I’ll do it for you.

Existing Homes Sales Tumble as Interest Rates Rise

Existing home sales fell 3.4% in September causing home sales to tumble more than 4% from a year ago this time, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Sales are now clocking in at a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.1 million, down from 5.37 million in September of 2017.

“This is the lowest existing home sales level since November 2015,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “A decade’s high mortgage rates are preventing consumers from making quick decisions on home purchases. All the while, affordable home listings remain low, continuing to spur under-performing sales activity across the country.”

Interest rates are on the rise. Mortgage interest rates averaged 4.85% on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for the week ending October 18, according to Freddie Mac. The 15-year adjustable rate mortgage averaged 4.26% while the 5-year ARM averaged 4.1%. Last year, this time, mortgage rates were under 4%.

“While the housing market has clearly softened in reaction to the rise in mortgage rates, the economy and consumer sentiment remain very robust and that will sustain purchase demand, particularly in affordable markets and neighborhoods,” says Freddie Mac in a written statement.

Pending home sales are down and prices are moderating. The median existing home price rose 4.2%  to $258,100 from September 2017. While that’s the 79th consecutive year-over-year increase, the experts say the pace of such growth is losing steam. Freddie Mac says for the year, “we anticipate that home prices will increase 5.5% with the growth rate moderating to 4.5% in 2019.”

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Freddie Mac price appreciation chart

 

Inventory remains low with 4.4 month supply of inventory at the current sales pace, according to NAR. Properties typically sold in 32 days in September, up slightly from 29 days in August. “Home will take a bit longer to sell compared to the super-heated fast pace seen earlier this year,” said Yun.

“Rising interest rates coupled with increasing home prices are keeping first-time buyers out of the market, but consistent job gains could allow more Americans to enter the market with a steady and measurable rise in inventory,” said Yun.

First time homebuyers accounted for 32% of September sales, up from 29% a year ago.

HELOCs Becoming More Expensive

In September, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time in 2018 and they’re expected to go up one more time this year and three times next year.  If you have a Home Equity Line of Credit, HELOC, you’re paying more to use that money and it is going to become more expensive.

It may make sense to refinance your home and consolidate the balance of your HELOC to lock in a lower mortgage rate.  Most lenders require that the combination of these loans should not exceed 80% of the home’s fair market value and that you have good credit and adequate income to support the payment.

A HELOC is a first or second mortgage that allows the borrower to withdraw money as needed, up to the line of credit provided by the lender.  A draw period is established where the borrower is only required to pay interest.

Since all HELOC loans are variable rate mortgages, during periods of rising rates, the cost of the funds increase.  However, unlike adjustable rate mortgages that have specified adjustment periods and caps, a HELOC adjusts when the prime interest changes.

The formula for determining available funds on a refinance are to take 80% of the fair market value, which will probably have to be verified by appraisal, less the existing first mortgage and the costs to refinance.  The balance would need to cover the cost of replacing the HELOC.  Any remaining balance may be available for cash to be taken out.

Now is a great time for a mortgage review. In many cases, the equity you have in your home may allow you to eliminate mortgage insurance and substantially lower your monthly payment. As with all tax matters, always consult with a tax professional before making any decisions.  Call us at (864) 400-9974 for a recommendation of a trusted mortgage professional.

 

 

 

Teal Pumpkin

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