Biz Bits: Five reasons why buying a home is still a good idea


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Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2012, 8:20 pm
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A still-murky economy and uncertain real estate market may have you wondering if buying a home is a good idea. Whether you're thinking about buying or already have and just need some affirmation, you may find it comforting to know there are still plenty of good reasons for financially stable people to buy a house. Here are a few:

- Homeownership can help make good credit even better. If your credit is in poor shape, you'll want to monitor it before seeking a mortgage. But if you have good credit, live within your means, and consistently make good financial decisions, a mortgage can be the kind of "good debt" that helps your overall financial health.

Making regular payments on a mortgage shows potential lenders that you're a less risky candidate for a home loan. Before you begin home shopping, it's a good idea to check your credit. Enrolling in a product like freecreditscore.com can help you better understand and leverage your credit.

- A mortgage can function like an automatic savings plan. By now, you've read the news reports about how little we Americans save these days. Well, every year you pay on your fixed-rate mortgage, is a year of building equity, and equity is like money in the bank. When it's time to sell - whether you've stayed in your home seven years or the full 30-year term - you'll have created equity and should be able to sell your house for more than you owe.

- Homeownership comes with plenty of financial perks, including an income tax credit for property taxes you pay on your home. For detailed information on tax breaks check out IRS.gov. Buying a home also affords you the opportunity to halt your housing costs. Rent will always go up from year to year, but if you have a fixed-rate mortgage (avoid adjustable rates) your biggest annual expense - housing costs - will be locked-in.

- Mortgage interest is a good deal when stacked up against other types of interest that don't do much for you - such as high credit card interest rates or low rates on savings accounts and CDs. Mortgage rates are low right now, meaning you can pay less over the life of a loan than at practically any other time in recent history. Plus, it's the only kind of interest that you can deduct from your taxes.

- Prices are still relatively low and inventory is high. It's been a buyer's market for a long time, but that's going to change. The question is: when will the market start to improve in your area, taking home prices with it? You'll have to do some legwork and astute research to determine when is the best time for you to buy.

-- ARA

Better Business Bureau Watch

The Better Business Bureau is advising homeowners looking to install a home security system to research first. "It is very important to investigate a home security system with the same care you would any major purchase," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois.

"There are differences in systems. Plus, there are too many door-to-door salespeople selling home security systems that don't always have your best interests at heart."

The BBB advises consumers to do the following when looking to invest in a home security system:

- Choose a professional installer. Deal only with reputable firms and check out the company's Business Review with your BBB first at www.bbb.org. The best home security system will accommodate your lifestyle and the specific valuables you want protected. Carefully consider your security requirements and budget. You may also get recommendation from the insurance company that covers your home.

- Contact at least three companies before selecting an installer. Find out if they are properly licensed in your state and if they screen employees before hiring. Make sure to check with the Electronic Security Association website for a list of member companies throughout the United States who have agreed to abide by the National Code of Ethics. Free bids from Accredited Businesses are available with the BBB's Request a Quote feature available on www.bbb.org.

- Ask about all charges up front. Prices for home security systems will vary, based on the level of protection and type of technology used, so be sure to compare bids on similar systems. Do not forget to factor in the initial installation charge, as well as monthly monitoring charges. Talk to your insurance agent; some systems may qualify you for a discount on homeowner's premiums.

- Know the ins and outs of your contract. If your alarm system will be monitored, either by your installing company or by a third-party monitoring center, find out the length of the contract. Typically, monitoring contracts are two to five years in length.

What is your recourse if you are not satisfied with the services provided? Can you cancel the contract? What are your rights if your monitoring company is purchased or acquired by another alarm company? These are the types of questions you need to consider before you obligate yourself to a long-term contract.

- Insist that the installer "walk" you through your system until you fully understand how it works. This will prevent the most common problem: false alarms. False alarms are an indicator of the quality of the alarm installation and user education. Ask for a complete inspection of your property and an itemized written estimate. Review the sales contract closely to ensure you understand exactly what equipment and protection you will be provided.

For more information, visit bbb.org.

The List

According to Yahoo, here are six careers for people who don't like people:

Accountant

Technical writer

Graphic designer

Software developer

Medical laboratory technician

Information security analyst



Number to Know

90: Percent of the U.S.'s corn that is in areas hit hard by drought, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tech Talk

Apple reported that its new operating system, Mountain Lion, was downloaded 3 million times in the first four days of its release.


















 



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