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Tax Benefits of Home Ownership

In tax lingo, your principal residence is the place where you legally reside. It’s typically the place where you spend most of your time, but several other factors are also relevant in determining your principal residence. Many of the tax benefits associated with homeownership apply mainly to your principal residence — different rules apply to second homes and investment properties. Here’s what you need to know to make owning a home really pay off at tax time.

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Understanding Your Credit Report

Your credit report contains information about your past and present credit transactions. It’s used primarily by potential lenders to evaluate your creditworthiness. So if you’re about to apply for credit, especially for something significant like a mortgage, you’ll want to get and review a copy of your credit report.

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Tapping the Equity in Your Home

Over time, the value of your home has grown and your mortgage balance has been reduced (or even eliminated). The equity (the property’s value minus any liens against it) you now have in your home is a reservoir of funding potential. You may decide to tap into it for various purposes, such as remodeling your home, paying off high-interest loans or credit card debt, buying a car, or sending your child to college.

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Should You Consider Refinancing Your Mortgage?

On July 16, mortgage giant Freddie Mac announced that the average interest rate for a 30-year home loan had fallen to 2.98%. In addition, the average interest rate for a 15-year home loan had declined to 2.48%.1

A 30-year mortgage at less than 3% interest? A 15-year mortgage at less than 2.5% interest? These lows were historic milestones, unseen in the 49 years of Freddie’s weekly surveys. It’s unclear how long this low-rate environment may persist.1 

Are you considering refinancing your mortgage? Keep in mind that just two summers ago, the average interest rate on a 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage hovered around 4%, while the 30-year was in the vicinity of 4.5%.2

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