We bought a modest home when we got married. Ten years and two kids later, we have a small mortgage and almost 150K in investments. Should we keep saving, or buy a bigger house? – GROWING FAMILY
DEAR GROWING: First of all, congratulations on managing your money wisely. Spending less than you earn can be tough when raising a family, but your ability to do so has put you in an enviable position.
You are currently reaping the tax-free benefits of living within your means. Here in Waterloo Region, real estate values have more than doubled in the last decade. This means a home purchased for $300,000 ten years ago is likely worth over $600,000 today. Because a primary residence is exempt from capital gains, this appreciation would be the equivalent of earning $30,000 per year in tax-free profit when it comes time to sell.
With a growing family and a solid investment portfolio, a move to a home you expect to live in until your kids leave the nest would be well within your means. Talk to your financial advisor about whether to take out a larger mortgage while lending rates are under two percent, or let your investments keep chugging away if they are earning six, seven or eight percent.
PRO TIP: Some of the best advice I ever received was to surround myself with professionals. Different people have different investment skills, and a good Realtor and financial advisor can help you find your way. To manage your accumulated 150K in investments, think about where you hope to be in 10 years. Depending on your comfort level, you may choose to direct some (or all) of your savings into a new home, where your gains will be tax-free.
I wanted to tour a house for sale last weekend. I called the listing agent, and over the course of our conversation, let him know that my own agent was on vacation. He didn’t want to show me the house after that, but isn’t it his job? – MIFFED
DEAR MIFFED: It’s good to know that some Realtors are still getting away on vacation. When I take time off, I have one of my partners step in so my clients aren’t left in the lurch. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen for you. When the listing agent heard you were already represented, he probably felt it best that you tour the property with your own Realtor.
PRO TIP: The listing agent did you a favor. If you happen to love the house, it’s far too easy to give away key negotiating details in polite conversation with someone on the other side. Come through with your own agent to protect your bargaining position and the seller won’t know anything about you. #AskDavid #Advice