HOW LIFE STAGES AFFECT HOMEOWNERSHIP
Each new stage of life presents its own set of unique challenges to homeownership. The good thing is that with the right preparation and planning, each new set of circumstances can be viewed as an exciting opportunity rather than a daunting season filled with obstacles.
While renting has its upsides, owning your home is a great way of investing into your future wealth by paying off an appreciating asset. But, depending on where you are in life, there are a few things you will need to consider to make the switch into homeownership an easy one...
Graduates carrying student debt
While paying off student loans and any other debt should be your priority; all debt doesn’t need to be paid off in full before you can apply for home finance. Your goal should be to show the necessary affordability ratios (i.e., debt to income ratio) for bond approval. If you’re able to show that you have a plan in place to pay off existing debt quickly, your chance of bond approval increases. Even a small additional payment can make a big difference in reducing debt levels. Having an emergency fund can also help you. Ideally, you would have a set amount automatically transferred to your savings monthly – not only will this help with bond approval, but it’ll help cover the costs of any unexpected expenses without taking on any additional debt.
If you’re newly married, consult with a tax professional to determine how this may impact your tax status – especially if either party owns property. For example, SARS requires consumers to inform them of their marital status as the disposal of assets has capital gains tax implications in the joint estate of spouses married in community of property. Reviewing finances and having everything in order will make it easier when it comes time to submit annual tax returns. If you weren’t living together before marriage, you’ll probably combine house insurance and other household expenses, such as electricity and groceries. Any money you save should go towards a household emergency fund or possibly towards a savings account for when you’re ready to upgrade to a larger home.
A growing family
Life changes constantly – especially with a growing family. You should review your financial plan annually by looking at your available resources, goals, and priorities. Re-evaluate your situation and include any major life changes that may have occurred, such as the birth of a child or starting a new job. All these factors play an important part in possibly changing the projected time frame to meet financial goals. If your family is growing and your home no longer meets your needs, aim to make a change sooner rather than later. This means you’d need to set aside more money for the deposit and other costs associated with buying a home.
Planning for retirement
When you finally reach the golden years of retirement and you’re living off savings or a pension fund, owning a home that is paid off can be incredibly helpful. Not only does this reduce monthly expenses, but it also provides an asset that could be sold if you run into financial difficulty. Planning for this in your younger years will prove invaluable for future financial security.
Seek professional guidance
Make use of a financial planner when creating strategies to meet your ever-changing lifestyle, goals, and priorities. Having a working relationship with a reliable real estate professional will also be beneficial. While you may not be in the market right now, life could change in an instant. Keeping in contact with a real estate professional will help you stay informed of the current market, and it’ll ensure you’re prepared when the need to buy or sell suddenly arises.