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 Is Home Ownership for You?

 Is Home Ownership for You?

It's often called The American Dream. And for most people, a house is literally the purchase of a lifetime, often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars along with decades of mortgage payments, insurance premiums and maintenance expenses. And as any homeowner will tell you, you must expect the unexpected. Roofs leak, pipes burst and hot water heaters predictably die on frigid Sunday mornings or holidays. But along with its inherent responsibilities and frustrations, home ownership is very much an investment that can reap big rewards.  

Buying a Home is an Investment  

When you think about it, buying a house means both a financial and an emotional investment. Not only do you put a large portion of your paycheck into a house each month, but you also put out roots into your neighborhood. Since you now live there and work to keep your house and yard looking good, you’ll also want your neighbors’ houses and property to look even better. As a homeowner, you have a stake in your community and its success.  

Risks and Rewards  

According to recent U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau statistics, nearly 70 percent of Americans are homeowners. And perhaps surprisingly, more than 50 percent of households with family income below the United States median level are homeowners. They all share in the substantial risks and rewards that come with home ownership. Most of the risks are financial. Keeping up with monthly mortgage payments takes discipline, and often sacrifice. But owning a home also has many rewards. When you’re the owner, you’re also the landlord. You can decorate your home any way you like and help increase its value through renovations, such as to the kitchen or bathroom. Many homeowners also enjoy planting their own gardens... and even cutting the grass. A home is in many ways a living investment that can grow along with you and your family.  

Buy or Rent?  

Although millions of Americans are homeowners, it’s not for everyone. For instance, if your income tends to fluctuate or you might move within the next three or four years, renting a house or apartment might make more sense.  

The Government National Mortgage Association ("Ginnie Mae") has a helpful website featuring a calculator that can help you decide if buying a home is right for you. CLICK HERE for their Buy vs. Rent Calculator.  

Other Expenses to Consider  

Yes, buying a home often means 30 years of continuous mortgage payments. But as Ginnie Mae reminds us, there are several other housing-related expenses that can determine your ability to afford a home:

  • Property taxes
  • Maintenance costs
  • Utility costs
  • Mortgage insurance (if applicable)  

And depending where you live and what type of home you purchase, you may also need to pay for homeowner association fees, flood insurance and other fees. It can add up quickly.  

CLICK HERE for Ginnie Mae’s helpful information about Your Path to Homeownership.  

Other Helpful Resources  

After bankruptcy, will you be ready for home ownership? There are many resources and websites available to help you consider your options toward achieving the American Dream:  

City of Richmond Office of Real Estate Services  

Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA)  

Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc. (HOME)  

Housing Virginia  

US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  

Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)

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