I BOUGHT MY HOUSE in Silicon Valley by launching a Kickstarter campaign. Together, the team blew past our target and disrupted an entire industry—all while driving for Lyft (not Uber) and Airbnb-ing our couches, of course.
First, what is a house in Silicon Valley? In the lauded land of garages-turned-unicorns, owning a house means any number of things: A wall, if one’s lucky. A floor. Perhaps a couch.
Not so for the wise who live elsewhere—like my Phoenix-based high school best friend.
WHEN IT COMES TO your home, ignorance about taxes isn’t bliss—and it could be disastrous. I often field tax questions from homeowners. Most don’t understand how they’re affected by continuously changing tax rules. Even worse, they’re totally unaware that the rules have changed.
Want to save thousands of dollars? What follows are reminders of how to sidestep tax pitfalls and take maximum advantage of frequently missed—but perfectly legal—opportunities:
Mortgage points. Do you plan to purchase a new dwelling around year-end?
HOUSING IS THE biggest expense for most American families, typically devouring a third of their budget. Are those dollars getting spent wisely? Here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
Should you buy? If you play around with the mortgage calculator at Bankrate.com, you can figure out how big a mortgage you could support with your monthly rent payments. That will give you a sense for whether homeownership is within reach. Even if it is,
FOR MORE THAN 20 years, I was a homeowner. Like most people, I had a love-hate relationship with the houses I owned. I loved building home equity in the two fixer-uppers I lived in. I loved knowing my mortgage payment would stay relatively constant from year to year. But I never enjoyed yardwork and I hated dealing with unexpected repairs, including replacing an aging sewer line in one house—to the tune of $10,000.
After I got divorced,
AS I PREPARE TO MOVE from Philly to Boston this summer, I’ve struggled with how to handle my home. Do I sell the place and pocket the profit—or keep it as a rental property for future income and price appreciation? A quick Google search provides plenty of good reasons to choose either option. But when making a decision of this magnitude, what really matters is your personal situation—and that prompted me to sell. Here are my five reasons:
The financial benefits of renting out the place don’t outweigh the costs.
WHEN WE MAKE investment mistakes, often bad advice is to blame. Someone recommends a stock or annuity or no-risk rental property, and we’re so tantalized by the upside that we completely miss the pitfalls. Sound familiar? As a counterpoint to this common trope, I wanted to share my best investment—one I never would have made if I hadn’t listened to those around me.
Before I officially closed on my house in Philadelphia, my parents drove by,
OUR HOUSE IS 65 years old. I have lived in it for almost half that time. Originally, I bought the house with my twin brother. Now my husband and I live in it. I feel like I was a pioneer of the tiny house movement. The house is 750 square feet. The bedrooms all measure 10 feet by 10 feet. The living room is all of 150 square feet. There are one-and-a-half bathrooms. The previous owner had a family of six.
WHEN I BOUGHT MY small rowhouse in Philly, I was swept up by the idea of homeownership. Like many of those I talked with at the time, owning meant no more wasting money on rent, plus it was a great no-risk investment.
Six years later, whenever I hear that friends are considering buying, I’m more cautious and often advise holding off—or at least peeling back the onion, so they’re aware that buying a home is rife with tradeoffs and not obviously “the right thing” to do.
HOMES HAVE BECOME less affordable. But this still looks like a good time to buy a house or trade up to a larger place, especially if you’ll need to take out a mortgage.
Affordability hinges on three key factors: home prices, mortgage rates and household incomes. Lately, both home prices and mortgage rates have been on the rise.
Property prices are up 38.2% from the early 2012 market low, including a 5.6% gain over the past 12 months,
I BOUGHT MY HOUSE in 2010, when I was 28. I was lucky to get good advice from my parents and some finance blogs I read. Even with that, there were parts I didn’t understand until after all the paperwork was signed and the deal closed. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase any of us will ever make, so it’s best to reduce rookie mistakes as much as possible:
1. Plan backward.
YOU COULD SAY I have graduated summa cum laude from the school of hard knocks—for first-time homebuyers.
From a financial standpoint, I did everything by the book. Over two years, my husband and I saved enough to put down 20% and cover closing costs. To ensure we didn’t buy more house than we could comfortably afford, we kept our purchase price to less than half of what some lenders pre-qualified us for. I aggressively analyzed and pursued the best financing options.
TEN YEARS AGO, the real estate market peaked. Today, prices remain 2.1% below their mid-2006 high—though they’re also 34.8% above their 2012 low, as measured by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index.
As property prices have recovered, homes have become less affordable. The impact, however, has been softened somewhat by modestly rising incomes and slightly lower mortgage rates, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. The upshot: If you have the U.S.