Are you ready to buy your first home in Otter Tail lakes country? These 7 important considerations, from financial and tax benefits to having control over your own environment, will help you decide if it is time to stop renting and being a homeowner.

It is a big move to jump into real estate, especially as a first-time home-buyer. You may be wondering if real estate is a good investment, or if you should continue to rent.
Owning a home is a significant commitment that takes work, including maintenance and good financial management. While decorating and making a home your own can be joyful, there are heating and cooling, plumbing, roofing and electrical systems to maintain, just to name a few.

However, if you are realistic about your expectations, there are some pretty compelling reasons to become a homeowner, if it is the right time for you and your circumstances. Reviewing these seven points will help you determine if it is a good time to buy instead of rent.

⏳ Good Timing

Mortgage rates are still relatively low, and West Central Minnesota doesn’t suffer from huge market swings like some parts of the country. But there are personal considerations too. Are you ready to be a homeowner? Being ready to settle down in one place for a few years, having good credit and funds for a down payment are good signs you are ready to take the leap.

🏠 Build Equity

Renting is good when starting out if you live within your means and are able to save money every month. However, once you own a home or condo, you build equity, which is a key component to your overall net worth. As you pay down your mortgage, the value of your home will typically go up. Markets do fluctuate, but generally keeping real estate well maintained over the long term, can mean a significant return on your investment.

If you are considering a home that has an additional rental unit or your first vacation home, then homes in Otter Tail County and the surrounding lakes region can be a good investment. With beautiful lakefront property, golf course homes, riverfront homes and easy-care townhouses and condos, can rent out the property when you are not using it, and have vacationers help pay your mortgage, just like you once did.

💲 Consistent Budgeting

Ever had a great rental, only to have the rent go up, up, up? With a mortgage, your bills are relatively consistent, allowing for better financial planning. For a vacation home, knowing your monthly expenses will help you target how many days per season you need to rent out the home to meet financial goals.

💵 Primary Residence Tax Exclusions

Capital gains are the difference between the price you paid for the home and what you sell it for later on. When it is your primary residence, this gain will be tax free. You are also able to write-off your mortgage interest each year on your personal income taxes.

Minnesota also allows a homeowner exemption on property taxes, reducing your tax burden even further.
You may be subject to capital gains tax when you sell a vacation home, but you will be able to expense any costs related to the house each year, such as maintenance and cleaning.

⚠️ Self-sufficiency

Hopefully most landlords are great, but we know some can be dreadful. Issues like upgrading appliances and performing maintenance may be done on the landlord’s schedule, rather than when you would like. When you become a first time homeowner, you set your own priorities on improvements and maintenance. When something goes wrong, you don’t have to wait for someone else to make necessary repairs.

🏡 A sense of place

Not only is having a roof over your head meeting a basic need, when it is your own home you are in control. You decide where and how long you want to live there. If your needs change you can sell and move somewhere else. Owning your first home is an asset that can also provide a financial safety net and peace of mind for the future.

🙋‍♂️ Pride of Ownership

In a rental, you likely need permission just to paint a wall. In your own home, you can paint and decorate how you like. If you would like to take down a wall, put in flower beds or a Jacuzzi, you don’t need anyone’s permission.

Consider all of the factors– financial and tax benefits, and having control over your own environment and decision making. Towns like Fergus Falls, Perham and Elbow Lake have a vibrant business core and many great opportunities for first time homeowners. Lake communities like Battle Lake, Ottertail, Ashby and Clitheral have their own flavor. Or perhaps you prefer the more rural settings of Underwood, Evansville, New York Mills, Pelican Rapids or Elizabeth.

When you are ready to make the leap into home ownership, we will be here to help and answer your questions every step of the way.

Your real estate agent is the best source of information about the local community and real estate topics. Call Tom Verhelst at 218-205-2604 | Karen Zell at 218-731-6836 to learn more about local areas, discuss selling a house, or tour available homes for sale.

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