Why Now Is the Time to Buy a New Home

Information provided by the National Association of Home Builders Buying a New Home

Tax Advantages

Buying a home is one of the smartest purchases you can ever make. One reason is that homeownership has many positive tax implications. The three most important sources of tax savings for home owners are the:

  • deductions for mortgage interest
  • deductions for real estate taxes
  • capital gain exclusion for the sale of a principal residence

The deductions for mortgage interest and real estate taxes reduce the annual cost of homeownership by reducing the home owner’s tax liability each year. For example, a home owner with $10,000 in annual mortgage interest payments and real estate taxes and who falls in the 25 percent tax bracket could realize up to $2,500 in tax savings each year. Home owners who itemize their taxes can deduct from taxable income interest allocable to a first or second home for up to $1 million of mortgage debt and $100,000 of home equity loans. And most state and local taxes paid on homes are also deductible.

When the home is sold, the capital gain exclusion can again provide home owners a tax benefit. Under present law, sellers of a principal residence can exclude from taxation profits from the sale of a home, up to $500,000 for married taxpayers and $250,000 for single taxpayers. With capital gain tax rates expected to increase from 15 to 20 percent in coming years, these tax savings can be substantial.

Research by NAHB economists has estimated the tax savings for home owners for certain income and mortgage amounts. For a married couple with an income of $80,000 per year and an initial mortgage amount of $250,000, the tax savings from the mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions are estimated to save the couple more than $11,000 in the first five years of homeownership.

Assuming the couple owns the home for twelve years, these savings grow to more than $25,000 over the time period. Combined with the capital gains exclusion, the total tax savings for the entire period of ownership exceeds $52,000. For a couple with an income of $60,000 and an initial mortgage of $180,000, the five years tax savings total more than $6,000 and the total savings over a twelve year period are estimated to be more than $33,000.

Should I Wait To Sell?

It’s always better to trade up in a buyer’s market, like the one we are in now. While the value of your house may have gone down, the price of higher-end homes has also dropped.

Here's an example. Say your neighbor sold his house six months ago for $300,000. In today's market, your home's value has decreased 10 percent and you could only get $270,000. So you might think you'd be taking a $30,000 'loss' on your home. But, don’t forget that higher priced homes are also dropping in

So, using the same example, the $500,000 move-up home you'd like to buy has also dropped 10 percent in value and now sells at $450,000. If you sold your home today for $270,000 and purchased the larger house for $450,000, the difference in price would be $180,000.

But if you waited to recoup the 10 percent value on your home and sold it at $300,000, chances are that same move-up home would also move up in price to at least 10 percent to $500,000. That’s a $200,000 price difference between the two homes.

So by not waiting and selling today, you would actually save $20,000. And most likely, by jumping into the market today your savings would be even greater because consumers have much more bargaining power when shopping for higher-end homes in a buyer’s market.

Should I Wait For Interest Rates To Go Even Lower?

Current mortage interest rates are extremely favorable for buyers. In fact, rates for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages are hovering near 30-year lows.

No one can accurately predict whether rates will go up or down. Even those who follow the market for a living can’t figure out when interest rates will bottom out. If they could, they would all be multi-millionaires. Waiting to time the market is a dangerous – and losing – game.

Also, home prices don’t necessarily move in unison with interest rates. So, if you decided to roll the dice and wait to purchase a home, and the price were to actually drop $10,000 from where it is today, you could still end up losing money. How? If interest rates were to move up by a half-a-point during this period, the savings on the reduced home price would be more than offset by the higher monthly payment you would be making and the total amount you'd spend over the life of the loan.

In short, the smartest and safest time to buy is now. We know that interest rates are low today. We know that home prices are down. We know that there are plenty of homes on the market to choose from. We know that sellers are willing to bargain. And we know that builders are willing to offer attractive incentives to get your business.