Buying a home “with cash” can benefit both the buyer and seller with a faster closing process than with a home loan. Paying cash also waives interest and can mean lower closing costs. Paying cash for a home eliminates the need to pay interest on the loan and closing costs. Lenders don't charge mortgage origination fees, appraisal fees, or other fees to evaluate buyers, says Robert Semrad, JD, senior partner and founder of Chicago-based DebtStoppers Bankruptcy Law Firm.
The alternative to paying in cash is to apply for a mortgage. A mortgage frees up cash for other investments and is usually the cheapest form of financing you can get. For example, you can take that money and invest it in the stock market. While there are no guarantees, it has historically been a winning trade.
An experienced real estate agent can also help you create more attractive offers that are accepted, shortening your housing search process. They may come to the table with pre-approval and be ready to make an offer, but their ability to close the deal will ultimately depend on the lender's assessment of your ability to repay the loan, an assessment of the home's value, and other factors. Depending on how much you saved and how much the house costs, you may run into problems later if you need funds for repairs, maintenance, or to help finance a life event. Mortgage lenders generally don't finance a home that's in disrepair, Kurokawa says, so you may pay cash for a house that needs work before it becomes habitable.
However, this is a risky move, especially if you don't pay the money quickly, for example, by applying for a home mortgage soon after you've completed the cash transaction. The IRS doesn't care that someone bought a home with cash, except in the rare case where someone owes back taxes and the IRS wants to impose a lien on that person's assets. Cash-paying buyers also avoid many of the costs associated with closing a loan, not to mention years of mortgage interest payments. Buying a home with cash can speed up the process, but it's not always the most beneficial decision for a buyer.
Title research is an important part of the homebuying process because you want to make sure there are no unknown liens or claims on the home before you take possession. If peace of mind is important to you, then paying your mortgage early or paying cash for your home in the first place may be a smart decision. If you don't pay your property taxes, state or federal, you could lose your home through a tax lien. If you invest a lot of cash in buying a home, you may not have money to cover basic expenses (such as furnishing it) or other living expenses (such as medical bills, car repairs, and vacations).
There may be more productive ways to use the money, even if you have enough cash to pay for a house directly. The first step to buying a home with cash is to make sure you have the cash in one place. Although significantly more retirement-age Americans have housing debt than they did 20 years ago, according to Federal Reserve data, many financial planners and retirees see at least one psychological benefit from retiring debt-free. The survey will show exactly where the property boundaries are, determine if the house is on a floodplain, and describe easements.