If you’re caught in a renting rut or uncertain about joining the ranks of homeowners, you should consider the benefits of buying a home. Although home prices are slowly inching upward in the Atlanta metro area, now is still an excellent time to buy. This is especially true if you’re a first-time homebuyer. Here are five benefits of homeownership:

Appreciation

When you rent, your money goes to someone else. There’s no benefit to you other than a roof over your head. When you buy, you earn appreciation as the value of your home goes up. Instead of paying rent, you’ll pay a mortgage and invest in future returns. For example, if you buy a house for $150,000 and five years later, it’s valued at $200,000, you have a $50,000 return on your investment.

Tax advantages

When tax time rolls around, homeowners are entitled to deduct certain expenses related to their mortgage payments and owning a home. Mortgage interest is typically deductible. In the early years of your loan, this is a sizable amount because a large portion of your mortgage payment is interest. You can deduct mortgage points, which are fees you pay to receive a lower interest rate. You can also deduct your property tax, and you might be eligible to deduct your private mortgage insurance.

Catching an upswing in home values

Home prices in the Atlanta area are shooting upward. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the median home price in January was $180,000 — a 22.4 percent jump from the previous year. If you want to buy before you’re priced out of the market, now is the time to make your move.

Low interest rates

The average rate for a 30-year fixed loan was 4.3 percent in early February, according to Freddie Mac. While mortgage interest rates are creeping upward, they remain at relatively low levels, especially compared to rates that were in the 8 to 9 percent range 20 years ago. Even as recently as 2007, rates were in the 6 percent range.

Pride of ownership

Perhaps the most satisfying of all the benefits of buying a home is the sense of gratification you feel when you relax in your own home. You can remodel and update as you please, you don’t have to rely on a landlord for repairs, and you have a sense of stability.

If you’re considering buying a home, it’s helpful to have a real estate agent by your side. A good agent has a steady pulse on the market and knows neighborhoods where you want to live. More importantly, as the market heats up this spring, a real estate agent can guide you through the complicated negotiation process that will ultimately land you in the home of your dreams.

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