Here’s my answer to that question just asked on Quora
Owning your house is the biggest and best benefit. It means you can paint the bathroom whatever color you want, remodel the kitchen, plant what you want in the yard, and on and on…all for your personal comfort and enjoyment.
If you have a mortgage, the interest you are paying is tax deductible (and for about the first 15 years of a typical 30-year mortgage your payment is more than half interest if you don’t pay taxes and insurance from the same payment. And the property taxes are probably deductible whether you paid with your mortgage payment or separately. No part of rent payments are deductible.
Besides that, owning a home has been a good investment over a long period of time. Yes, there are times when the value of a home may go down, but you only “lose money” if you see during one of those times. In 1950 the median (half were more, half were less) home price in the U.S. was $7,354. By 2000 it was $119,600 and today is $236,400. But be careful here, that 1950 house was less than 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms and one bath. Today it’s just short of 2,500 square feet and the majority have at least four bedrooms and three baths.
Nevertheless, buying a home (and living in it) has almost always been a good investment. One way to lose money on a house is to sell it one or two years after you buy it. If you’re likely to live there for at least two years, my advice is rent.
With mortgages, there is no “one-size fits all”. Mortgages (and the rates) vary according to your personal situation: income, debts, down payment, credit score and so many more items. Your best source for mortgage information is a local, experienced, mortgage broker. If you don’t know one, contact me for an introduction to my preferred lender.
Fannie Mae, which indirectly finances the fast majority of mortgages in the US, recently did a study on the most influential sources of mortgage information. Here’s what they found
This shows we have a lot of smart people in this country. Almost one third relied on a mortgage lender. Slightly fewer named their Realtor. Before I get too flattered with that, a Realtor is not the best source of mortgage information. If you ask me about mortgages I’ll tell you exactly that and introduce you to my preferred lender, who is a mortgage broker. Next most often used, family and friends, may be a good source if they’ve recently financed a home purchase (but the best mortgage for you is almost certainly not the same as the mortgage your family or friend got). The best source remains a mortgage broker. The reason is that mortgages are so varied and complex (and changing) today that you have to be in the business every day to have good, up to date, knowledge of what’s available that best matches for a particular borrower. A mortgage broker has access to dozens of mortgage sources and probably works with 8-10 on a daily basis. They are the best place to find the best mortgage for you.
We continue to buy ever larger homes, now average 2700 SqFt (up 1,000 from 1973). 41% of renters wish they’d bought. Full details here.
I just learned of a new down payment match offer from Guild Mortgage, the largest local mortgage lender in the NW. It’s really simple: you put up 1% of the purchase price of a home and Guild makes a grant of 2% so you qualify for a conventional 3% down payment mortgage. Yes, you just tripled your money. You can buy a $350,000 home with only $3,500 of your money down (plus closing costs). You could buy a nice $100,000 condo with $1,000 down. There’s even more good news in the fine print in the detail flyer my preferred lender, Kelly Parkman at Guild, gave me today
And here’s a short video of Kelly himself explaining it. We’ve worked together for five years and I’ve never seen him so excited.
Contact Kelly at 503/528-9800 or KParkman@GuildMortgage.net or contact me and I’ll help, too
This may not be a surprise to a lot of Portlanders, but our city has been included in a list of the top ten “next tech havens“
So you ask, “What does that have to do with real estate?”
With new jobs comes new population – people who don’t live here today. And those people buy things – groceries, cars, insurance, medical, accounting AND homes. Some will rent, of course, but the gap between the cost of renting and buying in Portland has grown pretty wide, so most will buy a home.
That adds to the number of home buyers, which already far outstrips the number of homes for sale, and keeps the upward pressure on home prices. Last month I listed a very nice condo in Tigard and had ten offers (all over list) in the first week. Maybe not ten, but for nice homes, multiple offers is the rule.
If you’re one of the nine buyers who didn’t get this one, that’s hard and I feel for you.
Of course none of us wants to live where jobs are disappearing (and home prices are going down). If you’re a buyer and your first thought is “Yes I would.”, while that does put you in an easier buying position, you wind up buying a major asset that’s worth less tomorrow than today. I’ve been in real estate in that kind of market and it’s not easy for buyers, sellers, or Realtors.
Today’s market in Portland is difficult but not impossible for buyers, and at least you’re buying a major asset that’s likely to be worth more tomorrow than today.
the question is how to do it so the value holds up for the long run.
Here's HouseLogic's list of the seven "Kitchen Remodeling Decisions You'll never regret"
The $20,000 figure is from the 2016 "Cost vs. Value" report* that shows costs in Portland for 27 popular remodels . It's for a "minor" kitchen remodel, (a "major" is $61,927 and an "upscale" $122,359). It also estimates how much each project will return in short-term sale price. The "minor" kitchen remodel will increase your short term sale price by $23,197 – 11% over your cost, so a pretty good investment. The "major" adds $48,371 and the "upscale" $87,667, but neither returns more than their cost. Still, if you're going to live in the house for many years, there's no dollar value on the enjoyment you'll get from the new kitchen. The report has figures on 26 other remodels. Want a copy? Let me know and it's on its way.
If prospective buyers could spend a week in a house they're thinking about buying, it would give them a good feel for the neighborhood, including how noisy (or quiet). Now there's a tool that can help with that. Enter the address at HowLoud and you'll get a SoundScore – a 50 to 100 rating (higher is quieter) on the ambient noise level. While it won't tell you about the neighbor who leaves for work at 5:00 AM on his Harley, it will give you a look into noise produced by trains, airplanes, traffic, commercial sites and the like. If this "takes off" it will become similar to a WalkScore as one independent tool to evaluate a neighborhood.
"That house down the street has 3-foot tall weeds all over the front yard"
"That car has been parked there for weeks"
"The business on the corner is so noisy I can't sleep"
"The neighbor's dog barks all day and night"
"I don't think that apartment being built over their garage complies with code"
In the City of Portland, there is a place to file a complaint for all these issues and more.
Click Here for a list of the right phone numbers for each of these issues, and many others. You can also file a complaint on line for almost all.
Personally, I've only filed one complaint like these. It was for a home under construction that had stopped the building process and let the weeds get 3-4 feet high. I filed an on line report and in two weeks they had been mowed.
Beyond removing an irritation to living, some of these things actually affect the value of all the homes in your neighborhood. So among other things, you're protecting your home's value when you file a legitimate complaint.
ALL lenders have the right to do a second credit check (and confirm employment, etc) just before funding. If you buy the new car after approval (or run up your credit card balance, or anything else that raises your monthly payments) you have changed your debt to income ratio. An acceptable ratio was one of the factors in the approval for your mortgage and if you change it by adding debt you may put yourself above the lender's limit and nullify your mortgage approval.
The safest course is to NOT take on ANY new debt after approval but before closing. Don't buy a car, a timeshare or anything that would affect your debt to income ratio. You've waited this long, stifle the urge buy whatever it is for another few days. After closing, you're on your own, but don't risk your purchase by buying something now.
Any good lender will tell you the same (but you may not have been listening). If you'd like an introduction to a top-drawer lender who's been delighting my clients for years, let me know.