Friday Five: Tax Season Reminds Us of the Benefits of Home Ownership

Find out why real estate is poised for a comeback this spring and why the mortgage interest deduction is important to the economy as a whole.

April 17, Tax Day, is fast approaching. So, if you itemize, remember to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction, one of the many benefits of home ownership. The MID saves the average home owner about $3,000 per year. In addition, as mortgage rates bottom out and the rental costs exceed those of home ownership, this spring may be the most vibrant for real estate in years. This and more in this week’s housing news roundup. 

USA Today: Mortgage Deduction Benefits USA

The current tax code encourages behaviors and actions that we, as Americans, believe are good for individuals, communities, and the nation. We incentivize retirement savings, child rearing and, yes, home ownership. Some say there’s no evidence the mortgage interest deduction (MID) has an effect on home ownership rates; to those people I say, “Just look around you.”

Wall Street Journal: As Home Rents Head Higher, Owning Regains Its Appeal

Climbing rents for apartments are combining with a continued decline in home prices to push once-reluctant home buyers into finally taking the plunge, say economists and real-estate agents, helping what appears to be a good start to the housing industry’s all-important spring selling season.

USA Today: Expectations Rising for Housing Market’s Spring Season

The spring home-selling season could be the strongest in years, and may foreshadow which markets will lead a battered housing industry in an anemic recovery, economists say.

Boston Globe: Mortgage Rates May Have Struck Bottom at Last

Home owners and home buyers still waiting for mortgage rates to reach bottom may have already missed it. The average rate for 30-year mortgages, which hit record lows in February, briefly rose above 4% last month for the first time since October, and many economists predict rates will continue to rise gradually as the economy and housing market recover. Freddie Mac, the government-backed mortgage company, forecasts 30-year rates will hit 4.5% by the end of 2012 and 5% by late next year, up from an average of just under 4% last week.

Wall Street Journal: Study Hits Banks on Foreclosure Maintenance

A consumer-advocate group said in a report Wednesday that a study of foreclosed properties found that banks have higher standards for properties they own in wealthy, predominantly white, neighborhoods than low-income ones, raising a new civil-rights challenge against the mortgage industry.