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Feature Articles - Housing


Home Ownership

Ronn Phillips, Arch.D., and Bobbi Hauptmann, Environmental Design, College of Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia

For many Americans, owning a home is the ultimate dream. Several important aspects should be considered:

Purchasing a House: You may make an offer on a house by submitting a purchase and sale agreement to your real estate sales professional, who is required by law to give it to the seller. The elements that potential home buyers should consider in preparing their offer include the market value of the home, any special circumstances surrounding the sale of the home, how much they can afford to pay, and the condition of the home. Make sure that your offer price reflects any needed repairs to the house and any special contingencies. Your real estate sales professional should work with you to include those items in the offer. The seller may accept, reject, or make a counteroffer. If your offer is accepted, you are on your way to getting a home.

Selling A House: Keep in mind the following considerations to help the sale process go more smoothly:

  • Time Becomes Money - Place your home on the market as far in advance as possible of purchasing a new one.
  • Check Your Curb Appeal - A home that's visually appealing and in good condition will attract potential buyers driving down the street.
  • On the Inside - Clean the entire house and remove any unnecessary clutter.
  • Go It Alone or Choose an Agent - unless you are willing to do ALL of the work in selling your home, a real estate agent is a good buy.
  • Set a Fair Price
  • Seek Legal Representation - a must if you are selling your home yourself.
  • Check with your Tax Consultant

To Purchase or to Rent: Many myths surround the rent vs. buy question in the U.S. The biggest homeownership myth is that owning a home is a huge tax break. If your mortgage interest and other itemized deductions do not go above the standard deduction amount, you don't get any tax advantage. Putting all of your money into your house isn't exactly the best solution to poor saving skills. On average, Americans move every five years. The first five years of a home mortgage are overwhelmingly made in interest - not to principal. If you want to invest your money smartly, do the numbers yourself or talk to a financial adviser.

"Green" House Designs: "Green" refers to building technologies that are ecologically responsible and sustainable. In addition to being less harmful to the environment, creating healthy indoor air quality, and utilizing renewable resources, green building technologies can be affordable. Houses that are energy-efficient, for example, use less energy than their conventional counterparts, which makes them more affordable to lower-income families. Smaller designs and alternative and salvaged building products rely less on precious resources and can cost less than traditional approaches.

"Life-Cycle" House Costs: The purchase price of a house primarily reflects the cost of materials, finishes, and equipment. Built into that cost, are the life expectancies of those components. Typically, components that have a more sustainable longevity cost more initially. Consequently, their maintenance cost over their lifetime may be significantly reduced. Examining the total cost of materials, finishes, and equipment when purchasing a house should take into account the maintenance costs over the expected life of the components - the "life-cycle" costs.




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Last update: Wednesday, May 06, 2009