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The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently released their July edition of the Housing Affordability Index. The index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.
NAR looks at the monthly mortgage payment (principal & interest) which is determined by the median sales price and mortgage interest rate at the time. With that information, NAR calculates the income necessary for a family to qualify for that mortgage amount (based on a 25% qualifying ratio for monthly housing expense to gross monthly income and a 20% down payment).
Here is a graph of the income needed to buy a median priced home in the country over the last several years:
And the income requirement has accelerated even more dramatically this year as prices have risen:
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We have reported many times that the American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, with many basic similarities.
Eric Belsky, the Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University expanded on the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership in his paper –The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America.
Here are the five reasons, each followed by an excerpt from the study:
1.) Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.
“Few households are interested in borrowing money to buy stocks and bonds and few lenders are willing to lend them the money. As a result, homeownership allows households to amplify any appreciation on the value of their homes by a leverage factor. Even a hefty 20 percent down payment results in a leverage factor of five so that every percentage point rise in the value of the home is a 5 percent return on their equity. With many buyers putting 10 percent or less down, their leverage factor is 10 or more.”
2.) You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.
“Homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord.”
3.) Owning is usually a form of “forced savings”.
“Since many people have trouble saving and have to make a housing payment one way or the other, owning a home can overcome people’s tendency to defer savings to another day.”
4.) There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
“Homeowners are able to deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income…On top of all this, capital gains up to $250,000 are excluded from income for single filers and up to $500,000 for married couples if they sell their homes for a gain.”
5.) Owning is a hedge against inflation.
“Housing costs and rents have tended over most time periods to go up at or higher than the rate of inflation, making owning an attractive proposition.”