Buying into the "American Dream", easier & less expensive?

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Good prices, low interest, and many houses to choose from: These are good reasons to buy a home.

But they aren't the most important ones. These are: because you want one, because you need one, because you can afford one, and because you can get the home you want right now.

These reasons for buying trump all others, no question about it. But aside from want, need, and can get, a few other situations make the timing right.

* The greatest benefits of home ownership include the fact that the place is your own. You can enjoy it any way you want for as long as you want. It will reflect your personal style and interests.

* Consider the long-term view. Rent money is gone forever, but a home is an investment. Part of what you pay each month is yours to keep.

You can deduct property taxes you pay as a home owner. And over time, the value of your home will increase.

* Low down payments of 3.5 percent are available through FHA.

If you haven't saved much toward a down payment, or if you are a single parent or have other qualifying circumstances, you could be eligible for a state of federal grant that would cover the down payment.

Your real estate agent is familiar with these grants and can guide you through the application process.

* Remember the $8,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit (for anyone who hasn't owned a home in three years). The credit is equivalent to 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, but capped at $8,000.

The credit applies to any home bought between January 2009 and December 1 2009. Singles an income of $75,000 or less to qualify, for couples, it's $150,000 or less.

It is refundable, which means you can get it even if you don't have $8,000 in tax liability.

Now is the time. Look around, make an offer on the home of your choice, and start on the way to becoming a homeowner.


Maria Smith-Alvira


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