"The most important work you and I will ever do
will be within the walls of our own homes."

Harold B. Lee  (1899 - 1973)

A home of your own

Perhaps you are tired of paying rent to a landlord. Perhaps you are ready to become part of a community. Maybe you need more space to raise a family, or you would like to begin your climb up the investment ladder, starting with your own little piece of land to grow on.

For whatever your reasons, you now believe that you are ready for a home to call your own.

Financial incentives

Owning your own home can be a first-rate investment for a number of reasons.

More stable housing costs
Traditionally, an advantage of homeownership is that, while rents typically increase year after year, the principle and interest portions of a fixed-rate mortgage payment remain unchanged over the course of the entire repayment period. That means, for a 15-year fixed mortgage, you can expect to pay the same monthly payment each month for the entire 15-year plan. Over the years, you pay the same monthly payment, no matter how much the inflation rate changes.

Increased value
Houses typically increase in value over time. This is called appreciation. In Pinellas County, it is not unusual to find a house that sold for $50,000 ten years ago is worth $150,000 today. Unlike other geographic areas in Florida, Pinellas County is surrounded by water on three sides and is largely built-out, meaning there is very little undeveloped land. There is nowhere left for urban sprawl to spread. As a result, the various city centers of Pinellas County (St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs) have become revitalized commercial and residential districts. The effects have brought up property values as much as 220% in most areas.

Tax benefits
Homeowners get significant tax breaks that are not available to renters. Most importantly, the interest paid on a home mortgage is usually tax-deductible. This alone can save you a substantial amount each year in federal income taxes.

A Florida advantage
Additionally, owning a home in Florida has some financial advantages over owning a home in other states. In Florida, all residents enjoy:

  • no state income tax
  • low caps on property taxes
  • lower utility costs
  • state incentives for home ownership
  • generous programs for first-time buyers

An investment in your own future

When you buy a home, your monthly mortgage serves as a type of scheduled savings plan; over time you will gradually build what lenders call equity.

Equity is an ownership interest in the property that you can often borrow against, or convert to cash by selling the house. This happens because the value of the property increases over time, becoming worth more on the real estate market than the price you originally paid for it. In contrast, people who rent from a landlord contribute to the equity of the landlord's property, and never see the fruits of their monthly payment.

Local. Experienced.

Advantages of Home Ownership Advantages of Home Ownership Owning your own home can be a first-rate investment for a number of reasons, and there are also some advantages specific to Florida, too.

The Costs of Owning a Home The Costs of Owning a Home Your American Dream can come true with realistic goals, careful planning, and a clear understanding of the costs that will be involved.

Determining Your Price Range Determining Your Price Range How much home can you afford? There are more factors involved than just comparing your paychecks to your expenses.

Prequalifying for a Home Mortgage Prequalifying for a Home Mortgage The first step in the home search is home financing. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan is necessary in today's market.

More Home for Your Money More Home for Your Money There are creative ways to make your money work for you when buying a home, and a little research can go a long way.

Deciding What You Really Want Deciding What You Really Want There are some simple things to consider before you start calling Realtors, and your final choices may surprise you.

Finding <em>Who</em> Finds Your Home Finding Who Finds Your Home Working with one real estate agent who has your confidence is better than stringing along several who question whether you are serious.

What to Look For When Looking What to Look For When Looking Not all homes are created equal. There are ways to assess the quality of a home in the same way appraisers look at homes.

Shopping for a Home Loan Shopping for a Home Loan With so many lenders advertising mortgage rates in Florida, how do you know which ones are good, and which ones are teasers?

Comparing Loan Terms Comparing Loan Terms So how do you know which mortgage offer is the one for you? Hint: take a look at more than just the interest rate.

Applying for the Loan Applying for a Home Loan You have the information the bank wants, but do you know how to present it to them in a way that will get you approved for the mortgage?

Mortgage Loan Processing Mortgage Loan Processing What is happening behind the scenes after you submit your application? A lot. Here's an inside look from the lender's perspective.

If Your Application is Rejected If Your Application is Rejected Getting turned down is not the end of the world, and it doesn't mean you have to give up looking. It just means you need a little help.

Negotiating the Purchase Price Negotiating the Purchase Price How do you negotiate the purchase price when you do find the right house? Hint: it's really more than about the price.

Contingencies in the Offer Contingencies in the Offer You've made the offer on a home, and now it feels like a tug-of-war. How do you move forward, and how do you get out of a bad deal?

Preparing for the Closing Preparing for the Closing What comes next, who does it, and how do you know it's being done in time? Preventing surprises at closing, and protecting your interests.

As Closing Day Approaches As Closing Day Approaches In the final weeks before your closing, there will be the title search, the survey of the property, and your final walk-though inspection.

The Day of Closing The Day of Closing The day of closing is finally here. So what you can expect? Here is an explanation of the documents and the closing costs you may encounter.