Home Sweet Investment

screenA home is the largest investment most people will make in their lifetime– the median home value is a little over $200,000. In fact, home-ownership is the cornerstone of wealth-building, with home equity accounting for 75% of net worth for the typical American. In the market to buy a home? Here are some home-buying tips to make the most of this key investment:

1. Work with an experienced and knowledgeable realtor. Clearly communicate that you are looking to buy a home with built-in equity (the difference between the market value of the home and what you will owe on the mortgage) and strong potential to increase in value (appreciate) over time. Consider buying distressed properties, such as a foreclosure or a short sale.

2. Be willing to put in a little sweat-equity. Houses that sell at below-market value often require some work. Look for homes that are structurally-sound (as verified by an inspection) but that just require a bit of cosmetic work, like paint, new carpets, or updated light fixtures and appliances.

3. Target homes in stable neighborhoods where home values are rising. Home appreciation, which is typically 5% each year, can play a big role in wealth creation. Even taking into account recessions, on average home values recover and increase over time.

4. Consider a 15-year or 20-year mortgage to decrease the interest paid to the bank and allow your equity to build up faster.

5. Lastly, after purchasing your home, be sure to properly maintain it and avoid renovations that will decrease the value of the property, such as changing a three-bedroom floor plan to a two-bedroom layout. This way, you will be able to maximize the profit on your home upon selling it.

Follow these tips to build a solid foundation for wealth-building.

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