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6 top benefits of owning a home -- Page 2

  • Equity: The portion of property that's actually owned, or equity, also rises over time. "Owning a home allows you to build the equity that accompanies appreciation," explains Timothy Spangler, CEO of a real estate investment company and author of "From the Rat Race to Real Estate." He adds, "You can't build equity if you are a renter." Moira Cotlier of New Haven, Conn., is a good example. "We paid rent to landlords for nine years before buying our house. Nine years," she says. "Do you know how many tens of thousands of dollars that was for places we had no stake in? What a waste!" Since 2001, she and her husband, Keith, have been paying themselves instead. Mary and Rich Hallahan, who own a Madison, N.J., home, think of the investment this way: "You are forcing yourself to save by investing in an asset over time," she says. Their home, purchased in 2002, has appreciated by about 10 percent since then. What's more, a first home often leads to a better second home. Equity buildup and appreciation in a first home help in the transition to a second. According to the NAR, first-time home buyers' median down payment is 3 percent; repeat buyers, meanwhile, put down 22 percent.

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  • Borrowing power: For owners who opt to stay put, equity still comes in handy. It can be used to secure a loan or obtain a line of credit, meaning "more buying power to fund home improvements or to assist with the purchasing of investment property," Spangler says. Cash for emergencies or big-ticket items is also an option.
  • Stability: Renters generally have no idea what they'll be paying a few years down the line. Home owners with fixed-rate mortgages, however, essentially have the same payment for up to 30 years. Even those with adjustable rates have a cap and can figure out their maximum potential mortgage payment. The stability also comes from the sense homeowners get of being anchored to their community. "It gives you a little more leverage when it comes to community issues and activism," Cotlier says. "When you own your home, and you're paying taxes on it, you might have your voice a little better heard when it comes time to speak up about neighborhood or community issues."
  • Freedom: Speaking up within your home is also much easier when you own it. No need to worry about "the downstairs neighbors complaining you're too loud, or the upstairs neighbor stomping around at 1 a.m.," says Sandy O'Keefe, who rented for about eight years before purchasing a Mansfield, Mass., home with her husband, Rob, in 2004. O'Keefe also appreciates the decision-making autonomy. "You ... pick every paint color [and] won't get fined for scratches on the wall," she says. The decision-making extends to the yard as well. Cotlier sums up the homeownership benefits in one word: roots. "You can plant perennials and enjoy them forever. You can plant a tree and watch it grow and grow. You can plant a family and watch it blossom."
  • Melissa Ezarik is a Connecticut-based freelance writer.

     
     
    -- Posted: May 16, 2005
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